Monday, August 15, 2016

A Terrible Son is still a Son

I was expecting the feeling of euphoria.  Or at least the feeling of relief.  Instead, I felt more anxiety still.  More work had been done than expected, the lawn was mowed, trees trimmed, bushes pruned, weeds were pulled.  Boxes were unpacked, furniture assembled, clean toys were sprawled out on the floor and being played with.  One moment I was close to tears out of joy, and deep anxiety sprung forth the next.

There's so much left to do.

For every box we unpacked, it felt like there were ten more mocking me.  For every job that was done, the to-do list only seemed to grow.

Set up the TV?  Wait, that cable doesn't work?  We never activated the cable line?  We need to call the cable company?

Add that to the never-ending list.

At least I have the rest of the summer to catch up on all of my preparation for the fall...  Oh wait.  The fall starts next week.  Students have all ready started to show up.  And I feel exhausted.  I feel spiritually dry.  I feel distant from the Lord.  How can I possibly bear the weight of the new semester?

Remember your Son-ship

My Mom was up this past weekend to help.  At times, I wasn't exactly the most loving towards her.  In spite of this, she purchased some of our groceries to get us back on our feet, took us out to three meals, and helped set up some of the things in our home.  How did I repay her?  By getting frustrated at her, and by secluding myself because I was exhausted.  I was a terrible son.

But I'm still a Son

As she left, she told us to sit down, and she handed Heather and I each a $100 bill.  "Here's some money just to have fun with,"  She said.  Now, my Mom isn't rich, just generous with her children (which means she spoils her grandkids rotten!)  We were thankful, and she left, but it didn't hit me until the next day the magnitude of this.

As I look to the fall semester, to my walk with God, to my house, it's not up to me.  It's not up to my talents, efforts, or charisma.  It's up to the God who gives me life in Jesus Christ.  He doesn't need me.  But He delights in using a broken, exhausted, sinner like me, because He purchased me with His blood and called me His Son.  

Sometimes, I'm a terrible son.  But I'm a son.  And I'm His Son, who He deeply delights in.

If you are in Christ, that reality is true of you now!

If you aren't, it can be, through repentance and faith in Jesus.  Do you want to be a Son or Daughter of the King of the Universe?  Then run to God and trust that Jesus is enough to do it.

Monday, August 8, 2016

10 Reasons Why I Don't Pray

"Over the years, the main way I've lied to people, is when I said I definitely will pray for you.  That's been my main lie in my 40 years as a Christian." -- Tim Keller

The above quote is not meant to defame Tim Keller.  He shared it openly during one of his services at Redeemer Presbyterian, located in New York City.  It was one of the many things that I've heard this past week that has pricked my soul in regards to my prayer life.  In a world that has increasingly said, "stop praying and do something," I've often stopped praying and done nothing.  

I want to both pray more and do more good, as God has promised that He has created me for good works (Ephesians 2:10).  So why do I often do neither?  Specifically, why don't I pray?  Why don't we pray?  Here are 10 reasons why:

1. I make it solely a discipline, rather than a discipline of desperation.

2. I believe the words of skeptics rather than the Word of God

3. I believe my words rather than the Word of God

4. I don't believe God is big enough to answer my prayers

5. I don't believe God is good enough to answer my prayers

6. I don't believe I'm weak and needy

7. I don't believe I'm worthy enough 

8. I don't believe it's more valuable than my hobbies, my sleep, or my time on facebook.

9. I don't believe time with God will give me the sweetest rest

10. I'm so overwhelmed that I don't know where to start

None of these are good reasons.  None of these are true reasons.  Maybe you can relate?  I don't have an answer of how to fight through all of these things, but I'll start with this: if you, like me, are so overwhelmed by all there is to pray for, start by saying to God that you don't know where to start, but that we trust that He knows all that's on our minds.

I often forget that God is not only powerful enough to answer and good enough to listen, but He's present enough to know the deepest parts of us.  Psalm 139 says "Search me, O God, and know my heart!  Try me and know my thoughts!"  Granted, the context is about God searching the psalmist to find any offensive way, but I think the overall implication is staggering!  He is asking God to know everything about him, including the things he doesn't even know about yet!  

That's very encouraging to this struggler.  

So start praying.  Ask God to help you want to pray (Psalm 103).  Ask God for big things!  Ask God for small things!  Ask Him to intervene in world events, and ask Him to intervene in the most personal parts of your life.  And know that, in Christ, we are always worthy to approach the throne of grace. 

Monday, August 1, 2016

A Familiar Accusation

I was having a good week.  I just turned 30, I was showered with gifts, encouragement, and love.  My wife had her birthday just two days later, and we got to spend the whole day together without our kids, which was so awesome.  God was so good to us.  But that attitude turned in an instant. 

On Thursday, we went to talk with Lowes about the counter tops that we wanted to install.  We thought we had plenty of time to get the counter tops in by our move in date, August 12th.  So when they told us it would take a month or more, the news felt devastating.  I didn't take time to ask questions like whether we could still move in, or other rational, sane questions.  No, instead, when Heather told me the news, I displayed my wrath.  I angrily shouted I was going for a walk, slammed the door behind me, and went out on an angry vent against God. 

"Aren't you powerful enough to get us back into our house when we want?!"  I cried. 

"If you were really for MY good, then you'd get us back into our house now!"

As I said those words, Genesis 3 flashed into my mind.  I had been studying it as I was preparing a sermon for church.

Satan comes and tempts Adam and Eve, and one thing in particular stood out as I studied the passage.  "For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil." (Genesis 3:5)

As a standalone verse, it seems innocent enough.  But in context, this is a damning accusation of God.  Satan is telling Adam and Eve about why God is wrong about them eating the fruit.  And in verse 5, he declares the worst accusation of God: He is keeping something good from them.  God doesn't want them to have that fruit, because He doesn't want to give them good things.  He's clearly not good. 

This is a devastating assault on God's character.  And to believe such a lie after all God had given them!  He had given them life, creation, dominion over all the earth!  And, He gave them one another in marriage! 

To eat the fruit was to believe that God wasn't good, even though He had proven His goodness by their very existence!  And my accusation was the exact same thing.  If we are honest, our sin is often a familiar accusation that God is holding out on us.  It's why we are greedy, why we lust after men or women that aren't our spouse, and why we complain and get angry when we don't get what we want.  We believe a dirty lie that God is holding out on us, and that if He were good, He would give us what we want.  Worse yet, we believe He is holding out on what we deserve. 

Here's where we see the goodness of God truly displayed.  You see, because we sinned, there is something that we deserve.  But it's not good.  We deserve God's wrath and judgment.  We deserve to die in our sin.  But God is holding that back.  He will hold it back FOREVER if we trust in Christ, because He, the perfect righteous one, the one who deserved all good things, died so that we wouldn't get what we deserve. 

God is gracious in not giving us what we deserve.  He is gracious in giving us good things.  And so when things look bleak in our lives, it might be tempting to believe the worst about God.  But refuse to do so.  Look instead to the cross, the truest symbol that God will never hold out on us, because He held out on His Son for our sake.