Thursday, June 26, 2008

Notes on Our Ongoing Need of Redemption as Christians

Here is an excerpt from a great article, and a great challenge. You can read the rest John Hendryx's article here:

When the Lord opened my heart to the gospel in December of 1985, He set me on a radical new course, having delivered me from a wild life which was characterized by various anti-social behaviors, selfishness, drugs, crime, and the occult. Out of the most unlikely place, as I was reading the Scripture, the Lord revealed to me my lost condition: that I was without hope save in the mercy of Jesus Christ alone. In a moment, the Holy Spirit graciously united me to Christ, adopted me into God’s family, turning me from my idols to serve the Living and True God. I reflect back with awe as I consider that during the honeymoon period of my newly granted life in Christ, how the Lord actually poured out on me an extraordinary grace to overcome some of my previous bad habits and gave me a remarkable heart for prayer, especially for the lost. With zeal and great affection my greatest desire was to follow and obey the Lord. He stirred my heart to pray for a couple hours each morning as I arose, knowing that I must call down blessing from God if I was to have any power to live effectively during this age. And the result was much fruitfulness and effective personal and corporate ministry to the glory of God.

Well one day in His great wisdom … and for His sovereign good purposes, God decided to remove part of that extraordinary initial grace. I don’t know if you have had a similar experience but the first years after conversion I felt invincible, that all sins were there to be overcome and souls were there to be harvested. There was a zeal that felt as if I would never fall, yet one day, perhaps due to my great personal and ministry success, and God wanting to show me what was really dormant in my heart, allowed a subtle pride began to creep in. Even though I knew intellectually that my conversion and newfound devotion were all a gift from God, there was self-righteousness which entered my heart in my daily life. I began to believe the lie which presumed that it was my own zeal, my own prayers and my own obedience which kept me in good standing with God. As a result, Christ’s finished work became increasingly minimized by my own efforts and activism. The result was fruitlessness and sin. And when I fell into sin I would hold in the guilt because I considered repentance as something more related to what people do at the beginning of their Christian life. I feared to look at myself in the mirror of God’s word and so hesitated to acknowledge my weakness. Christians were not supposed to be like this, especially me. Pride kept me from recognizing how largely dependant I still needed to be on Christ every day. Being in a far away land I was not able to access good teaching or shepherding, and my understanding became distorted by my sin. A moralistic strain became somewhat more evident in my Christian walk. I had become too reliant on my successful walk in the past and forgot, that all I had was wholly of the Lord, a gift from Christ and not something self-generated. [...]

It's not a heart issue

That's basically what my cardiologist said. "My cardiologist" - lol... I've only seen this doctor one time. But it sounds cool, in a weird medical sort of way. I've been experiencing a lot of chest pain - as in all day every day. The pain that I feel most often is dull, just like someone is leaning on your chest with their elbow. But at times it increase in intensity and severity - and once I thought I was having a heart attack.

That started all kinds of medical testing: stress tests, nuclear tests, cat scans, x-rays, etc. I bought at least one BMW for a doctor that I am aware of. It's really expensive, all these tests - but we have the best health care system in the world and I appreciate the doctors taking advantage of all that is available to us.

So, yesterday I went to the cardio-doc and he was very certain that I don't have any blockages. He thinks it may be some sort of inflammation or something. So I start the rounds of anti-inflammatory meds and have one more test, an echo-cardiogram, at the end of next month. Prayerfully all the testing will then be done and I can get on with normal activities.

There is so much to be thankful for: good docs, great technology and God's gracious dealing thus far with my health.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Lite Summer

So the posting here is dwindling in frequency. That's due to a hectic schedule all the way until school starts in August. I will say that I've thought a lot about posting - and that doesn't really matter at all.

We've just returned from our annual Sr.High Retreat. I was challenged by our speaker, Dwayne Berna in his sessions on accepting "God's Deal" for our lives. As he walked through Matthew 4 and referred back to Genesis 3, I was reminded that while Satan is creative, he certainly uses no new material in his dealing with mankind.

And even while I know that, I still choose to accept his deal rather than God's...much too often for my liking. So, what do you do? I will confess, repent and decidedly move forward in my progress of becoming more like Christ. I must. To quit is unthinkable to me.

Dwayne gave me a lot to think about, and I'm beginning to process all of it today. If you'd like to see pics from the retreat, check out my facebook page. God gave us a great weekend & for that I am very grateful.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Happy Father's Day.

Yesterday it happened again. It hasn't happened for a while, but it did yesterday. In all places, it was the auto parts store. I was buying a light for the trailer I just built, and was getting checked out at the cashier's counter. The guy behind the counter smiled and kindly asked, "Would you like to buy a gift card for your dad?"

He didn't know. It just hit me weird. Dad has been gone now for three years, June 2nd. Three years and still I stood there.

I was awkwardly trying to figure out how to answer, and this guy just looked at me puzzled as I sputtered out a "No, that's okay". I thought I should tell him that my dad was dead. And it still hurts. But he was just trying to help me in my Father's Day purchases. He had no idea what was happening in my head.

As I was leaving the parking lot, my head still kind of reeling, this verse came to me: Psalm 68:3, "A father to the fatherless and a judge for the widows, Is God in His holy habitation." I understand what the verse means...and I guess I'm not really "fatherless", just separated from dad - but this verse was a real comfort to me yesterday.

My wife and kids made my father's day even sweeter. My wife purchased a Hershey's Special Dark chocolate bar for me, and my kids told me a couple times today, "Happy Father's Day, Dad". My oldest daughter, 8, even thanked God at our dinner prayer for today being Father's Day. And when I looked up upon her "amen", she was smiling at me.

It's been a good day. God is good all the time, and fills the voids left when death rips a hole in the soul.