God never…. never changes

God never…. never changes

(In response to John Pavlovitz’s Things I Stopped Believing After the Election)

We live in a world of opposing concepts. It is a world of flux, and a world of constance. We wake up, and the sun shines. We take a breath. Constance. Yet, the world is in flux. We learn news from around the globe that we weren’t expecting. Empires rise, and they fall. Power comes to some, leaves others… and soon enough the first to gain power have lost it. Political parties do this and that. People die. Babies are born. We may miss that bus, or meet a random stranger in the line for coffee. Our lives are dichotomies. But, as the title suggests, God never changes. He is light, and in Him is no darkness at all. He has no variation. No shadow. No internal conflict. No unexpected qualities or events. He is – יהוה. Yahweh. From before the beginning, and even after the end, God will have been the same being that sculpted the something from the nothing. He will be the Creator of life from emptiness. He will be the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, as. He. has. always. been. God never…. never … changes.

We cant say the same about people… We disagree with people. We dislike people. We may even hate some people. And hatred seems to be a prominent issue in todays culture. Both the right and left side of the political aisle have found that pandering to fear and hate produces voters, and voters keep them in power. This election cycle has been a nightmare, a dream, or a twilight feeling that you cant seem to shake! Many are dissatisfied with everything about everything that was this last election cycle. They are calling out. They gnash their teeth in anger. They seek something else to explain why and how and WTH?? Many have lost hope, they have lost faith, they have lost feeling.

I myself have not lost faith. Nor have I lost hope, or joy, or understanding. So, as I look out over this country after more than a quarter under a new president, I see a few truths that I feel need to be drawn out. This post is in response to many who have spoken out since election results, but particularly in response to John Pavlovitz, a man who leads a church and seems to forget what Christ’s Church is ultimately. It is not a place to feel warm and fuzzy, not like the American church is today. Christ’s Church is universal, it stretches across political boundaries, denominations, geographical distances, and space-time. Right now there is an American missionary in Turkey, held without a real sense of any release coming – and he is living a life not unlike Paul, that reflects Christ more truly than these politically comfortable churches out there! But that is another post for another time…

People are completely broken.
When Adam and Eve ate of their own pride and arrogance, mankind was broken. We are totally deprived, totally bad – though not as bad as we could be. Obviously there are people worse than you, dear reader. But you are never as bad as you could be. Sin hasn’t tainted you quite that badly. If you have kids, or have been around people for any amount of time. If you have friends – you know that people are not inherently good. To quote one of my favorite shows (and excuse the language – it has its place) : “people are bastard coated bastards, with bastard filling.” We cannot deny that. There is no human on the face of this planet that doesn’t have sin nature they are hiding. Your kindest, sweetest, most generous person goes home to a room full of baggage and sin that manifests differently for everyone. Your most devout Christian dad is hiding a tempting sin just waiting to overcome him.

I point this out to say that no man is perfect. No woman is perfect. Additionally, people are as broken today as they were thousands of years ago. Paul writes to Christians around the Mediterranean reminding them that they once lived in the most despicable sins. From lying and adultery, to homosexuality and murder. They were once, too, part of the damned crowd. This election cycle brought out the worst in many, many people. We saw, and still see, an unbelievable amount of hatred spewing forth from far too many powerful people. But look back at Cain, the Tower of Babel, Sodom and Gomorrah, the Pharaoh, the Philistines, the Syrians and Babylonians, and so many more. Think about the many historical figures you have studied that have done terrible things. Think about the articles you read, or specials you watch, that tear down the image of these supposedly “standup citizens” who actually have many many demons. People are broken. It is undeniable.

Sin corrupts our whole being, and we cannot deny that broken nature. It’s why we want to backstab when a wrong is felt. It is why we cannot help be feel selfishly angry when our friend is successful in the midst of our perceived failure. No man is good, not even one, and our brokenness leads to our eventual demise for said evil nature. If left to our own devices, void of any of God’s grace, we would tear down the walls of hell itself to let ourselves in. We would simply be given over completely to our passions, to our natures, to our malice and hate and pride. It would be an unnerving life to live. We would truly be like the animals. But there is an answer, and a solution to this dilemma we find ourselves in. Though many will never seek this road.

Christ makes the world better.
So what is the answer. Is it money? Power? Love? Karmic balance? Good works? No, surprisingly it is what the heading of this section is. Christ. Christ is what makes the world better, it is wha- Who – will save this world. The dilemma we face is a lack of Christ. Not a lack of the church. Not a lack of government funding programs. Or denominational support. Or parachurch ministries. We need – you and I and the world need – Christ. But which Christ? Suit and tie wearing, right wing, gun toting Christ that fought and died for your right to beat people over the head with His book while simultaneously breaking commandment after commandment in secret (many times while people know your sin)? Is it the grandfatherly character who just loves you so much that he sent another to take your place and redeem you and love you and blah. Blah blah? No. He also isn’t Christ of multiculturalism or the Christ of a meta-narrative. He isn’t the one who matches your every need, want, desire, wish, and belief.

Who He is is the Savior. The Son of the Living God. He is the one who by which all creation unfolded. He is the Word of Truth. He is the Bread of Life. He is the Living Fountain. He is the fulfillment of Scripture. He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. What He isn’t is a catch all. He is not everyone’s Savior, but He is the world’s, because people from every tribe, nation, and tongue will be found in His Kingdom. Christ makes the world better. Not religion. Religion is man-fused. It has many bits and pieces of human in it. It tastes spoiled and poopy.

America is completely broken.
This sentiment may seem to go against the typical, conservative, Christian, political stance. Additionally, it may seem to fall in line with the progressive, leftist concept that America is a terrible place due to anti-this/that ideas and policies. Neither is true. The fact that America is completely broken has nothing to do with worldly things, and everything to do with spiritual things. It is also wrong to think I am simply pointing out America’s shortcomings. This spiritual brokenness spans across all countries and nations the world over!

Many conservatives read portions of Scripture and believe that they refer to America. The main verse used is 2 Chronicles 7:14, which reads, “if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” It is anachronistic and honestly foolish to think this. The people of God are no longer tied only to a nation, or country, or nationality, or any outwardly distinguishing factor! The people of God are the Church. And the Church is full of people who have a Savior. That Savior brought them up out of sin and brokenness. And America is terribly broken. We all can see that.

Beauty is not found in broken things. It is found when things are fixed, and put back in their true state. Many times things must be broken to see their beauty, but brokenness is not beautiful. It is this Truth that makes the Gospel more amazing. Christ saved those who were unbeautiful. Those who were unlovely and unwanted. America is many of those things, but America is not special. It is another broken nation of broken people needing Christ. The Church needs to show that more and more – especially when politics and other such things (many of which were relied upon as allies for many many years) are no longer showing that message. We need to be preaching salvation. Redemption by work that is not our own. Grace that abounds even in the face of our brokenness. Mercy that exists without expectation. Justice that will inevitably find its place, the question is where will we find ourselves? When time runs out, where will we be? Fighting for a better tomorrow that eventually will cease to exist, or existing to bring about a tomorrow that has already been set in stone by He who created all things? A tomorrow that is more beautiful, and unbroken, than we could ever imagine?

His table is big enough
This future date will come. All of creation is crying out for its arrival. A time is coming when people of every tribe, tongue, color, background, struggle, triumph, wealth class, societal class, etc… will be brought together. Under one banner. To one table. And that table will be overflowing. There will be more for those there than they can ever imagine or consume. But this table will not be furnished by mankind. It will be furnished FOR mankind, IN SPITE of mankind’s failures and faults.

Christ’s table is open to all who would be brought in. It’s a difficult subject to fully understand, but His table has had place settings since before the beginning of creation. Those who would come hadn’t even been born yet and God chose them to be there. We can be assured that His table is sufficient because He is without change, and knows who and what is necessary – always has, always will. This table will be overflowing with the best food and drink and fellowship that we could ever imagine. His table is being set, and the guests are being called. The invitation is simple, “do you believe in your need for salvation due to your undeniable brokenness? Do you believe that the Gospel, life, death, and resurrection is all you need to fulfill the debt of your brokenness?”

If that seems unbelievable or totally far fetched – you aren’t alone. Most don’t want to believe that’s all Christ is about, that this is all Christianity is about. They see crusades, and perceive bigotry in Christ and His followers. But Christ loves His own. His yoke is easy, and His burden is light. The call is a high one though, and a rough road. It is a humbling road. It asks you to give yourself up, a highly erratic thing to consider nowadays. To come to the table is to admit you cannot feed yourself – truly – on your own. But Christ is sufficient. His table is full, and will forever be full.

Our table is not. The worlds table is not. It will be ultimately found bare. It will exclude many. So for someone to claim that THAT table is not big enough, is simply an understatement. The world, with all its claims of love and acceptance, it will leave many out. New tables form. More are left outside. The world wants to provide but has not the means. Only one does. Christ.

Christ is all you need
This world has many gods. Many little cords that pull on our hearts. Greed. Honor. Pride. Niceness. Tolerance. Deeds. Family ties. So very many. And everyone is guilty of falling into their enticements. Many times we are enticed by promise of a better life, or at least and easier one. Before moving onto the obvious answer (it’s set up in the section title), let’s take an honest look at the other options we find in the world.

Money is a popular option. Money buys happiness. Money creates stability. It makes the world revolve. Wealth is a symbol of completeness. When you can lean on your wealth, you have little to worry about. But who can name the top wealthiest in the world? Who can remember the wealthiest of the 19th or 20th centuries? Where did Rockefeller, or the railroad tycoons’ money go? Who remembers the great fall of the Wall Street brokers in the past? Money causes the best of men to make the worst of decisions to simply obtain more of it. It turns us into slaves.

But what about spirituality, or godless religion? Doing good. Karma! These things bring about good in the world, no? Think about Buddha, or Ghandi, or Nelson Mandela! These people had no Christ. These people did good things in the name of mankind! If we can just do good, if we can just put more good in that we put bad we will have done our good service and can die in peace, to be taken back into Mother Earth! Right? This is a nice thought. No doubt about that. But did their work ultimately fix anything? Buddhism has been around for ages, longer than Christianity, yet their philosophies haven’t made any lasting impact. Ghandi’s passion still exists in many places, but racism and classism still pervades many minds. These actions will eventually fade. Every aspect to their work will become simply history – forgotten. And remember, there have been plenty of terrible things done in the name of “gods.” Every religion has had something attached to it, even anecdotally that is bad for publicity. I myself have asked that question before many times. Why do I need this Christ person? I am a nice guy. I do nice things, kind things. I seek to bring about good in others, I seek their good. But the question that always comes back to me is “why?”

Why do this? Why do one thing, and not the other? What reason do I have? Is it societal clues we have developed and trained? Is it evolutionary biology which has brought us to a realization of some form of right and wrong? Can we look out on the world we have created, and live in, and honestly say that there is even good or evil? This is a tough question, and one that has plagued theologians since we first sinned. But something that nearly all thinkers, scholars, theologians, sociologists, biologists, economists, philosophers, and many others can agree on is this: this world is broken. We have droughts, and famines. We lie, cheat, and steal. We murder – many times without remorse or second thought. We blindly follow passions and fears. We die. Civilization is crying for something to make sense of this “why.” And it is this “why” that I see such Truth in the Cross.

“Christ is all we need” can be a rather pithy statement. What about air, or water, or food, or warmth, or love? What about technology? Well, yes, our bodies need those things. But we are more than a body. Biology tells us that without a shred of doubt, these bodies will decay. There is practically nothing we can do to stop this slow churning to demise. But the “why” tells us something about after that happens. These bodies will die. We will take our last breath eventually. But, and I truly believe this scientifically and spiritually, we are more than our physical bodies. That spirit which lives inside us is more real, in many aspects, than the nose on our face. That spirit needs more than wealth, or religion, or warmth – it needs Christ. It needs salvation from the shackles it finds itself in. It needs redemption from its numerous short comings and pitfalls. It needs assurance of a brighter tomorrow. Things of this world will not bring those things. Not politics, not wealth, not preachers or teachers or gurus. No thing of this world will satisfy that hunger within you crying out for more. No song will ever fully satisfy that voice. No promotion will fully satisfy that desire. No women, or man, or child, will satisfy that need for family or relation. Christ. Can. So when I say that Christ has the ability to fulfill your every need, I mean it in a Spiritual way.

In Closing

Now, all of these sections could be expounded on. And maybe sometime in the future I will have time to. But I want to hear your thoughts. Your ideas on what I am saying. Wrestle with it. Question me on it. Dialogue. Think. Pray. This tumultuous time in our country should not be faced with fear and trembling, because He who as conquered the world is still in control. No politician can stop His kingdom advancing. No threat of violence can stop His Spirit from moving. No fear of oppression can prevent His Word from reaching the unreached.

Take heart brothers and sisters, Christ has won. There is no fear of today, for today is one day closer to Christ.

Take heart brothers and sisters, justice will be served. There is no need to fear those who oppose. Christ is victorious.

Take heart brothers and sisters, sin and Satan, have lost. Do not listen to their lies, for their lies cannot even convince their ears.

The world we live in may seem scary, may seem like a reality tv show – but remember to live everyday as to the Lord. To work your hardest to bring Him glory, and you will not be disappointed.

May the Lord bless you and keep you.

David

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“The Sands of Time Are Sinking”

“The Sands of Time Are Sinking”

#hymnsforHim

The Sands of Time Are Sinking

1. The sands of time are sinking,
The dawn of heaven breaks;
The summer morn I’ve sighed for –
The fair, sweet morn awakes:
Dark, dark had been the midnight
But dayspring is at hand,
And glory, glory dwelleth
In Emmanuel’s land.

2. The king there in His beauty,
Without a veil is seen:
It were a well-spent journey,
Though seven deaths lay between:
The Lamb with His fair army,
Doth on Mount Zion stand,
And glory, glory dwelleth
In Emmanuel’s land

3. O Christ, He is the fountain,
The deep, sweet well of love!
The streams on earth I’ve tasted
More deep I’ll drink above:
There to an ocean fullness
His mercy doth expand,
And glory, glory dwelleth
In Emmanuel’s land.

4. The bride eyes not her garment,
But her dear Bridegroom’s face;
I will not gaze at glory
But on my King of grace.
Not at the crown He giveth
But on His pierced hand;
The Lamb is all the glory
Of Emmanuel’s land.

5. O I am my Beloved’s
And my Beloved is mine!
He brings a poor vile sinner
Into His house of wine
I stand upon His merit –
I know no other stand,
Not e’en where glory dwelleth
In Emmanuel’s land.

I know this hymn from my childhood…but I can’t tell you the last time I sang it, let alone read through it. But – seriously – if you just skipped down to my words, go back and read through that! It’s like reading C.S. Lewis or J.R.R. Tolkien! The imagery!! The content! Wow. Just wow.

 There is honestly so much in this song that speaks volumes about the beauty of God’s plan in this world. A plan that “brings a poor vile sinner into His house of wine.” It provides the answer to the two part question:

  1. Who is God?
  2. Who are we in relation to God?

God is He who, from the foundation of time, has been the fountain of all things. He is beautiful, He is glorious, He is mercy incarnate. God is He who with the same power that breaks the will of Leviathan (Job 41), gently lifts up the broken who trust on Him. God is He who willingly takes in those who are helplessly sinful and shows them a mercy that cannot be described with human analogy. His mercy is extended to those who are called according to His purpose. Mercy is not free to all, but free to those whom He foreknew. Those who He foreknew, He also predestined.  How just would mercy be if it were for everyone..?

Who are we? Well, we are the poor, vile sinner. We sin. Daily. I mess up. Daily. I find myself chasing after temptuous thoughts. Literally. I just want to find a new way to be a bad Christ-follower. I take part in teasing, or negative talk of someone at work. I seek that thing that arouses me in sin. Seek it. Look for it at times. Or maybe I get angry at my wife for no reason other than she was right about something that I wanted to be right about… thus making me feel guilty. Seriously. Sinning is one of the easiest things to do when fallen. All of mankind has this problem, and that should not be hard to see. So, as nasty vile sinners – what are we to do? Do we just simply ignore the problem, say it is made up, and pat ourselves on the back for being less evil than other more evil people?? No. We need salvation. We need cleaning. Thus, the mercy that God provides is most necessary to our eternal living arrangements.

But – as a nasty, vile, selfish, proud sinner – do you think I am going to just be like, “yea! awesome, you are going to take my sin away, reminding me of how terrible I am. AND, you are going to do it for free because, in your own perfect Will, You decided that I was to be called to be in your family? AND there is nothing I did to deserve or earn this? Great! Sounds good!” No. Of course not. That may sound like the easiest gig in the world. But it gives up control. We no longer command our fate. Our destiny then is necessarily sealed from the get go. We also must admit we were flawed in the first place. This too, a post/ultra-modern “no-no.” We can’t just give up control!? That flies in the face of all we are taught about who we are as people, as Americans... We must be commanders of our own fate. Captains of our own ship. But Christ calls us to toss all that aside and see Him as our true salvation.

The bride looks to the bridegroom, not her own garments. His beauty is immensely more beautiful than her own. Even at her best. She knows this. And is swept up in its Truth. It is His sacrifice that draws her attention the strongest, not the prize such a sacrifice awards. But this is a gospel we need to preach to ourselves daily. This isn’t always easy to remember. Christians, I think, get so caught up in the concept of sharing the gospel with others that we forget to preach the gospel to ourselves first. You must first find that God has brought you into right relation with Him before you can even attempt to bring another into right relation with Him. Remove the log from your own eye, before you point out the speck in another’s. And that analogy works both from a prideful and logical standpoint.

Finally, let’s Tarantino this, and go back to the very beginning of the song. “The sands of time are sinking…” We are in the last hour. Every minute we are alive is one minute closer to Christ’s return. We are given basically one calling as Christians – aside from trusting on Him who gave us eternal life. It actually spawns off from that gift and trust. Once, like I said above, we get our own heads on straight (facing Him, not ourselves), we need to be facing out. Into the world. Reflecting the Light of the world, Jesus the Christ. A friend of mine, quoting another theologian, told me a profound truth. If I were one outside the faith. If I had Christian friends who, believing to be holding the one true Key to eternal joy and eternal life with a God who had created all things with but words. AND, if those friends never had the gall or gumption to breach the subject with me… well, I would be appalled! Do I not deserve evangelism? Do I not need to hear these words, even if I think you are mad to the core? Regardless of what another person will say or think or do in response to your proposition of the Gospel, is it not your duty to share that Gospel??

“The sands of time are sinking.” Christ will return with no warning. And I ask you, American Christians? I ask myself… What are we doing about it? Are we drinking, and eating, and being merry – because tomorrow we die? Are we blissfully ignorant of our friends and family that have no saving faith? Are we… dare I say it… selfish? Selfish of the gift we have been given? I doubt that last one – or at least I hope not… Honestly I think it is fear. Fear of the “no.” Fear of rejection. Fear of awkwardness… And, let me say this, I am typing this – and hearing it in my head – and my words condemn me too. How easy is it to just slide along through life not offending anyone. Not bringing Truth into the conversation at work when you hear so many lies? Not being a source of Living Water when a friend needs it – even if they don’t want to hear it! Brothers and sisters. We rejected the Living Water too! We didn’t want to hear where we needed to change a portion of our lives. But Christ wants to save as many of mankind as He can. And trust me, He will save all of His people.

Don’t get me wrong. My, your, our personal involvement in salvation is moot. We are simply doing His work. But step back and think about that! God – in His infinite wisdom and power – knew it was best for me, for you, for us, to be involved personally in the salvation and evangelism of this world. We get the immense pleasure of being a part of a plan that reaches back before the foundation of the world. God chooses to use us, poor vile sinners, to bring the Truth of the Good News to other poor vile sinners. To share the stories that show the Truth of our fallen nature, but the just Truth of His mercy. That we stand in Christ alone for our salvation. The sands of time are sinking, and we need to ask ourselves how are we working out our salvation? Are we working it out with fear and trembling, as Paul writes, or are we complacent – poised to be spit out for the sin of “lukewarmness” as John writes?

If you have any questions, please comment or message me! If you like this post, please “like” and share! If you need me to expound on something, let me know! Thank you for reading, and have a great day!

Come, ye sinners

Come, ye sinners

#hymnsforHim

Come, ye sinners… once we are brought into His family, THIS …this… is the Truth that we are promised. I am poor. I am wretched. I sin. I am weak – weak willed, and weak minded. Christians are not perfect. We cannot, and should not, claim to be. THAT is what makes us stronger. So, let’s read this:

Come, ye sinners, poor and wretched,
Weak and wounded, sick and sore;
Jesus, ready, stands to save you,
Full of pity, joined with power.
He is able, He is able;
He is willing; doubt no more.

Come ye needy, come, and welcome,
God’s free bounty glorify;
True belief and true repentance,
Every grace that brings you nigh.
Without money, without money
Come to Jesus Christ and buy.

Come, ye weary, heavy laden,
Bruised and broken by the fall;
If you tarry ’til you’re better,
You will never come at all.
Not the righteous, not the righteous;
Sinners Jesus came to call.

Let not conscience make you linger,
Nor of fitness fondly dream;
All the fitness He requireth
Is to feel your need of Him.
This He gives you, this He gives you,
‘Tis the Spirit’s rising beam.

Lo! The Incarnate God, ascended;
Pleads the merit of His blood.
Venture on Him; venture wholly,
Let no other trust intrude.
None but Jesus, none but Jesus
Can do helpless sinners good.

When I read/sing these words they cut at every aspect of my life. It’s just amazing what God does in this world by speaking through His people. Gifted people who can discern His Truth on such a beautiful level.

Come ye sinner poor and wretched, weak and wounded, sick and sore… weary and heavy laden, bruised and broken by the Fall. Who doesn’t feel that burden daily? Who isn’t reminded our life’s brokenness on a consistent basis? Yet, truly, if we tarry – if we push ourselves to be better…. to be stronger… to just fight that tempting mistress just a little more earnestly.. maybe God will like us more? Maybe if I’m just nicer to that weird guy at work. Or say my prayers more earnestly… Maybe I can tithe more! Or say more kind words? If I just read the Scriptures more! Do even more devotions! That is surely find favor in His eyes! If we tarry until we are better… we will simply never come at all…

How many people live their lives this way? How many religions are founded on such premises of merit based salvation? I sit here just exhausted contemplating doing those things simply to gain favor with an almighty being. Those works above are not bad things! In fact, as we read in James, if I am to count myself in the family of believers and do not do those things I have no faith. Faith without works truly is a dead faith. It is lukewarm, and Christ will in the end times spit you out for you were never truly for him. Our faith, wholly given in grace by God (so that none may boast), finds completion in works. But if we simply lean on them for salvation we will surely fall!

True belief… true repentance… they are found in Him. Lo! The Incarnate One pleads on our behalf – those who look to Him in grace given faith. Amazing grace it is! The merit that we desire is His blood. The works that we want to offer are simply to accept His sacrifice and offer our lives to the one who gave His. Him and Him alone do us good. We must, MUST, venture on Him – and wholly on Him – to find that true belief and true repentance. It is through Him that we find relief. Relief from hardship. From pain. From suffering. From heartbreak and tears. From the cascading and, at times, all enveloping sadness of death. It is He who breaks the cycle that sin tosses us into.

If you want to know more about Him who calls us ugly sinners to Himself. To come and dine with Him. Not to find wagging fingers, but a firm vision of who He sees you to be in Him – please, let me know. Share this with your friends, with your family. Reach out to me! I am by NO means an expert, but I can pray with you, pray for you!

And be praying for me! I thoroughly enjoy writing these posts! Hymns are beautiful, they bring such passion in such few words. But I need to keep my focus on this! Sometimes life can get confusing, and I will get pushed back and just need God to keep me pushing forward on my blog posts. Thank you for reading!