How Christmas Influences My Perspective Today

You know that feeling where you simply cannot shake the conviction of the Holy Spirit? I’m convinced of my salvation in Christ Jesus because the Holy Spirit dwells within and draws me toward repentance. I may be stubborn and not repent right away but that often leads to literal, physical sickness for me. Christ within me cannot stand sin, but my flesh loves it. I know what Paul means when he wrote “I know the good I ought to do and yet don’t do it” – something along those lines.

I’ve been thinking about some life situations recently, along with my own sin faults over the last few years of my adult life, and one passage in particular keeps coming to mind.

Romans 3:23 – “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” It’s a humbling reality to realize that even as a “good Christian” and someone who has been in good standing most of my life, even I have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. I think this is why it can be so dangerous to allow ourselves to develop a moral superiority complex toward others. “Well at least I’m not an alcoholic…” or “at least I’m not as gluttonous and obese as they are,” or “at least I haven’t killed anyone.” I’m not an alcoholic, but I have certainly been drunk and that is sin. I am not morbidly obese but I am overweight and have an impulse control problem. And I haven’t killed anyone but I have had hatred and bitterness in my heart toward others, and Jesus says that hatred in our hearts towards a brother is the same as murder.

That’s some rather heavy stuff. I found myself sulking in that reality, that heaviness and dread of my own folly and lack of righteousness. I found myself humbled and wishing that it were not so.

The good news is that verse 23 of Romans 3 is followed by a comma, actually, not a period as portrayed above. Here is what follows in verse 24 – “And all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.”

I was thinking about things like depression and addiction and these pitfalls that even the best of people fall into sometimes, and it made me think of a world without hope. I saw a post on Facebook the other day about depression and how inescapable it can be “I know I will be fine but I don’t feel fine.” We should not willingly allow ourselves to be led to the slaughter to sin, but if you find yourself there this morning and realize your own capacity to mess up, then that is the first step toward freedom. The next is realizing that no matter how f’d up you may think you are, ALL are justified FREELY by HIS GRACE through the redemption that came by Christ JESUS! (Read that again.)

If that isn’t a reason to celebrate Christmas, then I don’t know what it is!

This morning, I’d like to remind all of us that conviction does not have to lead to shame and guilt. In fact, if our brains are trained to go that way, it’s because we’re listening to the whispers of the devil rather than the still, small voice of Almighty God.

The Father’s voice sounds a lot different. Conviction can lead to repentance, which can immediately lead to full restoration. Think Prodigal Son. Wasted His entire inheritance and the Father still celebrates his return home, throwing a party which requires even further financial sacrifice on his part. We simply cannot outrun or out-sin the love of God. We can always come Home. “Let the children come to me.”

I think about my love for my wife. I do not love her because she loves me. I love her because I choose to and because I’ve made a covenant to do so every day for the rest of my life. But I am also motivated and encouraged to new levels of love as I witness her beauty, spiritual growth, and acts of service and kindness toward me – they are a sort of motivating force behind my love toward her and becoming increasingly less selfish so that we may both benefit.

My prayer for us all would be that conviction would lead to repentance which would lead to full restoration, and that we would be quicker to live a righteous life out of a deep love for God. A love that we have learned from Him, that is encouraged and strengthened by His love for us. And that we would choose Him daily.

If you’re having a hard time doing that, maybe you’re simply not looking for Him in your life anymore. When I find myself having a hard time loving Allie, it’s because I’ve gotten lazy in noticing all she is and all she does and the way she loves. We have to be intentional with what we fix our eyes on. If I fix my eyes on a woman, then I am bound to lust after her and be led away to sin. But if I fix my eyes on Christ, then I am bound to be led toward holiness, a cleansing of my sins and a deeper understanding of who He is and why I’m loved.

From that discovery and outpouring and life with eyes fixed on Christ, I can love others because I’ve learned what Love is from the Creator Himself.

You get the point.

Stop thinking you’re better than…Be quicker to admit your faults…Admit your failures don’t claim them as your identity. Fix your eyes back on Jesus and let Him remind you who you really are. Then live and love out of that reality.

All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God…

BUT…

Christmas happened.

Jesus came. Freedom is ours for the taking.

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Rally

I’ll pay the price for staying up late and writing this tomorrow but I’m highly motivated and feel it is necessary to write to my peers this evening. Hopefully what I have to say will be an encouragement and a challenge to you! Recently, I’ve filled up a journal that I’ve been keeping for the past 2 years and I’ve taken the time to look back through some of my entries and see the maturing of my heart and the maturing of my closer friends’ hearts. You would be absolutely amazed if you knew my heart about 3 years ago compared to now. I have gentlemen like Wade Keltner and Josh Williams (my Freshmen Connection leaders), Chris Halvorson (Men’s Bible Study Leader in Olathe),  Jason Reynolds, and countless other men that I’ve looked up to throughout my earlier college years to thank for that development! These men, along with the leaders of Student Mobilization and Navigators, have taken it upon themselves to disciple and encourage me through the ups and downs of my freshmen and sophomore years and now as a junior in my fourth year at K-State it is my turn to carry on the legacy of making disciples of the upcoming generation of men.

So, why would I choose to write about this? Well, because I cannot do it alone! If there is anything that I have learned during my college-education, it is that there is strength in numbers! The absolute only reason that I’ve managed to stick to the straight and narrow over the last couple years of my life is due to the countless brothers and sisters in Christ encouraging me during the hard times and challenging me to pursue holiness in every facet of my life. This must continue! It must continue in my life, your life, and our peers desperately need it as well (they just may not know it yet). Otherwise, we are dangerously close to being swept away in the powerful current of the raging river that is our culture. And if you’ve read earlier posts, then you’re well aware of my stance on our culture. It’s filthy, broken, sexualized, and filled with debauchery, drunkenness, and pride. As Christians, we MUST live lives that are counter-cultural. Should we choose to lead lives that are stained by the darkness of sin, then how can we shine brightly in a way that resembles the true and resilient beauty of Christ?!?!

We must remind ourselves daily that as we walk to class, speak with our peers in the locker rooms, interact with professors, and even joke with other brothers and sisters in the faith, that we may be the only example of Jesus that anyone has in their lives. That’s a huge responsibility! We are ambassadors for the coming of our LORD and Savior! As you take these things into consideration, I would encourage you to seek Christ in everything you do. Spend time in His Word, in prayer, and in fellowship with other brothers and sisters in Christ that are dedicated to keeping you strong.

This brings me to my main point. Da’ T.R.U.T.H. recently released a new track (song) titled, “The Whole Truth” and one of my favorite lines of the song is, “Something supernatural happens when the saints rally!” Think about it…when believers in the LORD band together in prayer, fellowship, and service and have authentic, loving hearts, what obstacle could not be overcome? Faith small as a mustard seed can move mountains! What if…the faith of a few faithful on campus banded together and those seeds actually blossomed into vines that bear fruit! What if…you personally dedicated a few minutes of your time daily to pray over the campus you attend? I wonder what would happen if hundreds of broken hearts were crying out to God and seeking out revival on this campus. God has told believers for millenniums that we have little faith in His ability to provide.

Now if faith small as a mustard seed can move a mountain, don’t you think it would be capable of moving the mountains of people’s stubborn hearts? I am 100% certain that God has the power to change hearts. He’s changed mine.

Allow me to illustrate things in terms of baseball since it’s a sport that I spent at least 10 of my younger years playing. Imagine yourself sitting in the dugout on the Visitor’s bench. The home-team has taken the field and it’s the top of the 9th. Your team has one more shot at overcoming the lead of the opposing team, so the captain of the team places his cap on backwards and proclaims, “Rally caps everyone! This is it! We’re going to proclaim victory over the home team now!” Are you drawing the parallels? As believers in Christ, we are no longer of this world but citizens of Heaven, and therefore visitors of this world for only a short-time, as we have eternal citizenship in the Kingdom to come. The world already has a head-start and currently has the lead, as millions of hearts are lost, thousands of “Christians” live out lukewarm lives, and Satan knocks our brothers off the narrow path. BUT the game isn’t over yet! There’s still the top of the 9th to be played!

Fellow citizens of the household of Christ, I am calling you to join with me and to put on your rally caps! Stand firm in your relationship with Christ, seek the Holy Spirit’s will in prayer, serve your Father in Heaven by serving your peers, lift them up and do not tear them down as the world tears down its own already. Of course, you cannot do this on your own. That’s what the Body is for! That’s why we need to rally! So…will you join the rally? Will you pray over our campus? Will you live out a life that is above reproach? Will we be the generation that witnesses the revival of college campuses across the nation? Only time will tell, but I’m choosing to believe that it is certainly possible if we rally together and place our faith and trust in something far greater than ourselves!