"God is pursuing with omnipotent passion a worldwide purpose of gathering joyful worshipers for Himself from every tribe and tongue and people and nation…Therefore let us bring our affections into line with His, and, for the sake of His name, let us renounce the quest for worldly comforts and join His global purpose."
    -- John Piper

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  • James 2:14-17

    What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, "Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed," but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it?

    In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.

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Focus on Worship — Are we amazed?

I came across a song titled Amazed by Jared Anderson.  The lyrics really got me to thinking again on how we enter the presence of our HOLY God.  Take a look:
You dance over me,
While I am unaware.
You sing all around,
But I never hear the sound.
Lord I’m amazed by You.
Lord I’m amazed by You.
Lord I’m amazed by You.
How You love me.
How wide
How deep
How great
Is your love for me
My perspective these days is this:  One single sin separates us from God.  The simple fact of the matter is that when God sees the sin in our lives, he sees that his law has been broken.  The payment for breaking God’s law is death….eternal death.  Yet, when we trust in the blood of Christ poured out over our hearts and God sees our sin, instead of pouring out death on us, he is SATISFIED with the SACRIFICE of his perfect, sinless Son.  The payment for sin is poured out on him instead of us.  Read that again:  The payment for sin is poured out on JESUS INSTEAD OF US!!!!!  Somehow, this doesn’t overwhelm us like it should.  It doesn’t amaze us anymore.  Why it is that knowing that ALL OF GOD’S WRATH was poured out on JESUS CHRIST AND NOT YOU AND ME doesn’t knock our legs out from under us to where we have no choice but to fall on our face before him in worship?  Why doesn’t God’s love AMAZE us anymore?  Why Doesn’t Jesus’ sacrifice AMAZE us anymore?
Seriously, folks, do you think that Jesus sweat drops of blood in the Garden of Gethsemane in anticipation of the cross, or the flogging, or the nails?   Not a chance.  That torment was the direct result of anticipating ALL OF GOD’S WRATH being poured out on HIM!    This was the final sacrifice.  No ‘do overs’ with another lamb next month…no priests interceding again and again.  This was the final sacrifice.  Remember Jesus’  last words?  IT IS FINISHED.  (For some background go read Leviticus 16 and then read Hebrews 9)
GRACE, LOVE, and MERCY cannot just be something we pay lip-service to.  Very simply, we have been called (in part) to worship him.   For us, it is imperative that God’s grace, love, and mercy are hidden in our hearts and evident on our faces as we stand amazed before him. 


A Broken Lawn Mower

I heard an illustration about “God’s grace” a while back.  It was good so I thought I should share it with you.  It may vary from the original illustration slightly, but you will get the idea.

Imagine you have a broken lawn mower sitting in your garage.  It’s really broken.  The pistons are siezed.  You can’t even pull the starter cord.  The motor is done!  You’ve kept it in your garage with the hopes that you might be able to salvage some parts off of it, but now it’s just been sitting there for years.  It’s all dusty and full of spider webs and the muffler has that rusted out look.  Long ago you bought a new lawn mower for your wife to use. 

Just as you contemplate dragging it to the curb for the weekly garbage pick up, God walks into your garage and starts looking around.  He takes one quick look at the broken, old lawn mower and says he wants to buy it off you.  You protest:  “God, you don’t want this lawn mower.  The motor is shot, it’s rusting out, it will never mow another blade of grass again.” 

God holds up his hand and shakes his head, waving your protest to the corner of the garage.  He repeats his request and asks you how much you want for it.  You are starting to feel bad at this point.  You wonder if maybe God is a little overworked or something.  Clearly he’s not thinking right.  “God, you REALLY don’t want this lawn mower.”  “Oh, but I do,” he replies while removing his wallet from the pocket of his robe.  “I really want THIS lawn mower.”  He promptly places several crisp bills into the palm of your hand.  You immediately notice that you are holding way more money in your hand than you paid for the old mower and the new mower combined.  You are beyond the point of protesting God’s purchase of your old, broken-down mower. 

He thanks you with a hug and pushes the mower down your driveway, whistling as he walks away. 

Later, in his workshop, the mower has been completely disassembled and is in various stages of repair.  The parts have been painstakingly cleaned and painted to better-than-new condition.  We watch as God turns the final bolts on the wheels and gently removes the mower from his workbench and sets it on the ground. 

“You sure were in a sad state.  But I’ve got you all fixed up now.  I have big plans for you,” he says.  “Big plans indeed.  Fields and mountains that need mowing.  Heavenly paths that need grooming.  You are better than new.  You are mine.  Together we will do amazing things to make the Kingdom beautiful,”  He proclaims.  “Now, let’s get to work.  You are ready!”



Tolerance or Truth an analogy

Let me try to illustrate my last post with a little analogy.  I know this is open to all kinds of interpretation, but I will try nonetheless.

  Let’s say my friends and I go out to dinner and  I order a Ceasar salad.  Throughout dinner I rave about how good it is.  One of my friends, intrigued by my obvious enjoyment asks what is in the salad.  I describe the seasoned crutons, and crispy Romaine lettuce.  I talk about how cold it is since they served it in a chilled bowl.  Finally I describe the savory Caesar dressing with anchovy paste. 

 At this point my friend is not sure he will like the  salad because of the anchovy thing, but decides the chilly bowl and crispy lettuce sounds pretty good.  So, he orders his own Caesar salad but sternly tells the waiter that he doesn’t want any of that anchovy dressing. 

 Is the waiter being intolerant when he explains to my friend that what he ordered is not a Caesar salad, but rather a bowl of Romaine and crutons?  Am I being intolerant when I join with the waiter and suggest that without the dressing, the salad will be bland and pointless?  

Let’s say we convince him to get the salad with the dressing and he totally and completely hates it.  Wouldn’t it be better to have him experience the whole salad in it’s intended form?  What if he just gets the lettuce and crutons and absolutely loves it.  What happens when tells all of his friends about this awesome salad he had, when all he had was a bowl of lettuce?  What happens when they go to the same restuarant and order the Caesar salad and it’s not what they expcted based on my friends description of the lettuce, crutons and bowl.  Is it fair for them to call the chef out and tell him how lousy the salad is based on an errant description?  I’m just asking!

I understand that this is a really loose analogy, but the point I am trying to make is this: 

There are certain principles of being a Christ follower and calling yourself a Christian.  Frankly, some of them are difficult.  (Like repentance).  You must believe that Jesus died to take those sins.  You must know that God’s grace is bigger than any of those sins.  And you must acknowledge (and turn away from) your sins.   Following Christ is not about any good works you do.  It’s not about going to church every Sunday.  It’s about your heart and ultimately, only God knows your heart.

 God Bless you in this day