Have you ever felt stuck in your story?
A Rogue Story
The Author, The Hero, and The Villain?
All good stories begin with someone who who plays the ultimate character or hero. In developing an understanding of our own story we must first go directly to the author. Now I know this may sound odd because most of us (If you are anything like me) feel like we have been the authors of our own confusion, loss, and failures. Our stories read like a book pre-judged by it’s cover, or one tossed away for some other more practical use like starting a fire in the wood stove. This is the result of a mis-understanding of who the real author really is and what His purpose is for you. You wouldn’t toss aside a novel by Hemingway or Tolkien. You see, we like to think that we are the hero in our own story, but if we take the time to search the roots or ancestry of our stories, we can better understand why things unfold the way they have and ultimately free ourselves from having to be the Author, the Hero, or the Villain! How is this possible you may ask? It is because our Author has experienced every role there is to play and He in fact knew me before I was formed in the Womb..
Jeremiah 1:5 (KJV)
Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations.
2 Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.
It takes very little understanding about our Author to come to the conclusion that He not only knows our story but is orchestrating each roll that plays out in our lives with perfect execution. Every scene is played out perfectly with all of His nature, personalities, and attributes being directed by and in the fulness of the Godhead. When we come to grips with the understanding that the author really knows what He is doing then we must change our perspectives about His plan and purpose for us while accepting that our story has been written by Him. This is the point that can transform our understanding of our story because it is here that we become free to see ourselves through the creative lens of Jesus.
So, how do we view our lives, our story? Is it possible that my story has been hijacked throughout my lifetime? How do we view others around us, our family, our friends, most importantly those who have gone through difficulty whether it is adversity or the consequences of sin. How do we view others who have different life experiences and persuasions? Is it our part to distance ourselves from those who have a different theological perspective? Should we allow ourselves to see others through the lens of past failures or mistrust? Should the view of myself be substantiated by the report of others who have not walked with me, but who know about my past? Or, does Jesus model a whole different perspective for us to follow where none of these questions come into play? These are all important questions to ask as we approach them through the simplistic lens of Jesus, giving us the right view of our story.
Through the lens of Jesus and because I have spent time getting to know the Author, something wonderful has happened in my own story. I have fallen in love with the author of my story and I am certain that on my behalf, Jesus comes to me and He is only motivated by His love for me. It is this passionate attraction for me that is packaged in such a way that it demonstrates itself by being relational with me, speaking with me, and lavishing me with the full provisions of His mercy and grace. He never puts me in a time out; He does not withdraw Himself from me, analyze my actions, and prequalify whether or not I am worthy of love. The Good News is that He is your Author too!
Jesus said “If you have seen me, you have seen the Father.” This story and lens of Jesus corrects our theology and understanding of the story of God, It makes it relational and not religious! I like how the Story of Christ and seeing things through the lens of Christ drastically impacted the lives of guys like Peter and Paul in the most profound but simplistic ways.
Peter gives me the hope that those who are religious in their theological perspectives can, not only be used by the Lord but, that they can change their perspectives radically. You remember the story when Peter had to go with a bunch of Gentiles to the house of Cornelius. He must have been totally freaked out! Good religious Jews especially Apostles didn’t roll with Gentiles. They were considered to be fodder for the fires of hell. (I have been on both ends of this perspective. I have felt that way about others because of my own religious pride and I have also been on the receiving end of those who are non relational and religious in their theology). Needless to say, Peter is placed in a position where if he is going to develop into the simplistic model of how Jesus showed us to live, then there is going to have to be a change in how he views others and it can only happen through the loving lens of Jesus. Read the story in Acts 10 to see how the Lord lovingly does this as Peter moves along through what could be considered as a very uncomfortable journey into the world of the Gentiles. In the story, Peter becomes what we call a relational theologian, not an academic theologian. I believe that God wants all of us to be relational theologians because they are the best kind of theologians. Why? A relational theologian tracks everything in scripture through the nature and Heart of God. The goal of God is to make all of us into His image. That is why Jesus was so relational In fact that is why we can so easily identify that His attraction was for the sinner and not the religious who thought that they were without sin. One of the first things that God reveals to peter is…
where Is this instruction. And the voice spake unto him again the second time, What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common.
I used to think that I was a commoner! Now I believe that I am not so common. God has captivated my heart, cleansed me from my sin and pride and filled me with His Holy Spirit. It was a process and a part of my story! Some will be skeptical of my story, others will hear it and relate, and my heart is that they be restored in their relationship with Christ and those around them. The great news is that all of this happens in people prone to fail in their own stories, people who do horrible things like lopping of ears, freaking out over little girls who call them out around burn barrels, those who deny over and over again that they ever knew Him or that He even exists. That is the Story line that Jesus, The Author and Finisher of our faith likes to use. Those are the folks that He makes relational but, not so common!
All that being said, our theology must be relational and in line with His primary purpose if we are truly to become living epistles. Note however that if you are like Peter, this position may get you a reputation of being unlearned but, it might also help the religious folk and sinners alike, identify that you have actually been with Jesus as was the case of Peter. Peter spoke from a level of relationship that the religious leaders never had.
One of the reasons I don’t get systematic theology is because there is no pathway through the heart and nature of God and it mostly ends up as rules somewhere.
When we study the Bible, we are studying the one who wrote it. If all you are doing is studying the principles of scripture then you are missing the heart of love that Jesus had for us while we were yet sinners. The Bible is a love story that causes us to fall in love with the author. When we believe on Him and embrace the simple faithfulness of Jesus towards us, He puts His Spirit in us and hides us in Him. Then begins the glorious process of sanctification where we go from glory to greater glory in His presence!
Paul on the other hand was and academic theologian. He had no understanding of the presence, He had totally missed the visitation of Jesus, and was convinced that he was serving the purposes of God in persecuting the church while breathing death threats to the disciples in the name of Jesus. This is what he said about himself…
I was educated under Gamaliel, strictly according to the laws of our fathers. I’m a Pharisee and the son of a Pharisee, Circumcised on the eighth day, of Isreal, of the tribe of Benjamin, as to Law a Pharisee, as to zeal, a persecutor of the church, as to legalism, blameless. I lived according to the strictest sect of our religion.
Here is the cool thing about the model of Jesus and seeing things through the lens of God. Christ will reveal Himself and love even the most religious!
3 And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus: and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven: 4 And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? 5 And he said, Who art thou, Lord?
There is Hope for the religious who say “Who are you Lord”? It’s sad to have all that pedigree, all of that learning, to have followed all of the principles and procedures without having an encounter with Jesus in the development of your theology.
The Good news is that Jesus loves the religious and the sinner alike! He sacrificed Himself for all of us. The sinner, the hypocrite, the religious, and the broken hearted alike. Paul exhibited all of these attributes and Jesus identifies Himself to him and shows His love and forgiveness to him, radically opening Paul's’ eyes to what relational theology has the ability to do.
If he can do it in train wrecks like Peter, persecutors like Paul, and guys like me who have been on both ends of the spectrum, then He is able to show himself, and lavish us with His love no matter who you are.
Just ask Him, Who are You?
So Who is Who?
One central character with the ability to assume multiple roles in any story is at the very nature of who God is. We were created for His pleasure and nothing gives him more pleasure than a story that glorifies Him. In order to break our stories down to a very simplistic understanding of the plot behind them, we must also have a simple understanding of what comprises the very make up of who God is. In order to do that, let’s look briefly at the Trinity or the sum total of who God is.
I like to wrap my brain around this Idea by viewing the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit as… Me, Myself, and I. These are the three distinct person’s of the Trinity where Jesus is depicted as eternally, The One True God.
1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 The same was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made by him; and without him was not anything made that was made. 4 In him was life; and the life was the light of men.
Whenever the beginning was, wherever it was, whatever it might have been, Jesus—the Word—was already there. He had no beginning and He has no end. He is eternally God. Jesus is also equally God. …and the Word was with God… Jesus, the Word, was with God—equal to the Father and the Spirit.
Now I know what you might be thinking… “I thought there was only one God?” There is. “Hear O Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord,” Deuteronomy 6:4 says. But the word used for “one” is the word echad, which refers to a compound unity, like one people, or one cluster of grapes. And so, God is a synthesis, a “tri-unity.” One plus one plus one does not equal one. But one times one, times one, equals one! And that is the mystery of the Trinity.
Allow me to introduce myself! Author, “I Am.”
“My name is I AM,” answered the Lord (Exodus 3:14).
In this particular story, Moses must have scratching his head in confusion and thought, You are… what You see, not realizing that what God really is would only be fully and completely revealed when Jesus Christ came on the scene.
At the end of His ministry, Jesus could say, “I have manifested Thy name unto the men which Thou hast given Me. (John 17:6). Because of this, He filled in the blank completely and perfectly.
Jesus in His great “Ego-Eimi” statements showed us how that He was fully God and the Author of our Story. He doesn’t tell us the way. He is the Way. “Whom seek ye?” He asked of the soldiers who had come to arrest Him. “Jesus of Nazareth,” they answered. “Ego Eimi,” said Jesus. “I AM.” And the soldiers—most likely several hundred in number—fell over backward (John 18:4–6), knocked down not by anything Jesus did, but by the sheer power of who He is. So, too, once you grab this, once you see it’s not something Jesus gives to you, but who He is for you, you’ll be knocked out. You’ll say, “Lord, I’ve been asking for clarity in my story and looking for the answers to my plot. But in reality it’s all wrapped up in You personally. And if I rest in Your arms, My story will have the right ending. If I stay close to You, I’ll be protected. If I cling to You, I’ll feel whole. If I allow You into my life, I’ll feel satisfied at last?” “That’s right,” Jesus answers. “I am the Way. I am the Door. I am the Vine. I am the Bread.” The Story starts with Him and ends with Him!
But there is even more to this Jesus, fully God in the flesh, who has come to be the central figure of our story!
One person plays multiple parts!
15 The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16 For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. 17 He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy.
The Super Hero
Colossians 1 reads like the identification of the Super Hero, Jesus Christ: Creator of the speeding bullet, His Spirit more powerful than dynamite, not just a leaper over problems but a fixer of any problem. Born a carpenter’s son, Jesus learned his father’s trade and, more than likely, he was good at it. His expertise in the art of carpentry isn’t what makes him memorable; it’s his unique knowledge of intimate details related to God. Jesus demonstrated that he was God by performing miracles, resisting great temptations, and teaching life-changing lessons despite his age or lack of education. His business practices are legendary, using ordinary people to do extraordinary things. So attractive is the story of Jesus that the multitudes were drawn to Him and if you introduce Jesus as the real hero of your story, He becomes one who is simple for everyone to believe in and look up to. That’s because Jesus is God. Because of who he is, he has the ultimate power.
Not only is He the One True God, and our Hero, He is the Ghost!
The Ghost Story
As a child, while on camping excursions, we would take turns conjuring up ghost stories to pass the time late into the twilight hours, around campfires or huddled in our sleeping bags, usually with the comfort of a flashlight in hand to shed light on the fears that were now becoming our realities.
The Holy Ghost Story here is much different than the spook tales of old. His work is explosive and His presence is comforting. He goes about His business drawing no attention to Himself perpetually leading, guiding, comforting and revealing the central character of our story. Let’s let the Word of God Speak for itself!
But the Comforter, [which is] the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.
Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, [that] shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.
1 Corinthians 2:9-13 (KJV)
9 But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. 10 But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God. 11 For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God.12 Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. 13 Which things also we speak, not in the words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual.
Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you.
2 Corinthians 3:17
Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord [is], there [is] liberty.
[Even] the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.
And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you forever;
[There is] therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.
For he whom God hath sent speaketh the words of God: for God giveth not the Spirit by measure [unto him].
For it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you.
God [is] a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship [him] in spirit and in truth.
For I know that this shall turn to my salvation through your prayer, and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ,
This is one Ghost Story that is vital to having a great story of our own!
Not only is He the Author and Finisher, the Hero, Comforter, and the Ghost in the Story but He is the Villain too!
John 3:14-16 (KJV)
14 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: 15 That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life. 16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
Jesus Christ became the Villain, or the Snake if you will in the story! How, you may ask did He do that? Simple! He who knew no sin became sin for us (2 Corinthians 5:21) in order that the wrath of the Father over the sin of the world would be appeased. Instead of smashing a world that is full of snake’s and villain’s, He turned to His innocent Son and laid upon Him the iniquity of us all.
Not only did Jesus know what this meant going into it, He did it anyway, all while knowing that I was the worst villain of them all. I can only assume that this is why in the Garden of Gethsemane, He prayed with such intensity, and sweat drops of blood. “Father, if possible, don’t let Me drink of this cup” (Matthew 26:39). But, it wasn’t physical death Jesus feared; it was the wrath of His Father that caused Him to break out in a bloody sweat (Luke 22:44). Jesus knew what it meant to be the total satisfaction of my debt, the appeasement of Gods wrath that I had alone deserved.
God Himself became a Man, His name was Jesus. Jesus being fully God, absorbed the wrath of His own indignation. He died, arose again to be seated at the right hand of the Father and sent His Spirit to guide and Comfort me. It is The mystery of the Trinity, the mystery of Jesus covering me, It is the Story of God as my Author, Finisher, Hero, Comforter, Ghost, Snake and Villain who was able to be all of this for me while wielding all of the wrath that I deserved upon Himself. The Ultimate Story!
Hopefully by now, You're beginning to understand why Jesus is not only the best Author of our story but that He is the perfect Finisher of our story!
I Like Action Adventure Stories.
You ever feel like you thought you had a character figured out in a story only to find out that there was another side to them. That is the beauty of having Jesus as the main Character of our story! It makes for a great Adventure!
When I hear the Story of God, when I understand my roots, and believe in His plan for my story, My outlook on the plot changes. There is hope! Life becomes an adventure and the thought of exploring the storybook of my life now becomes one of interest. It as if I have just landed the supporting role in a good Action/Adventure movie and the movies director has just yelled… Action!
Simplifying the Plot of Your Story
Now that we understand Jesus’ part and role in our story, we can warm up to the idea that in order to really live and tell a good story, it all boils down to Jesus being lived out in and through our story!
Hebrews 1:9 says, Jesus was anointed with the oil of gladness “more than any of His fellows.” That is, He had a gladness about Him that was unparalleled in any other person. Truly, whoever looks at the Lord cannot help but be impressed with Him. One would think however, that the secret to such attractiveness, effectiveness, and joy would be very complex. One would think that Jesus must have understood esoteric mysteries and implemented difficult methodology. But such is not the case, for throughout the scriptures, we see the simplicity of the secret Jesus understood that produced in Him the life that was so successful and so beautiful. What was this secret? The very foundational principle that governed His entire life was His relationship with His Father. If I were to question you about the defining principle of your life, you might say, “It’s my ministry,” or “It’s my family,” or, “It’s this vision,” or, “It’s this attempt to see the kingdom grow.” You might on the other hand, define your story as one that is full of tragedy, fear, rejection, failure, and disappointment. Regardless of your personal triumph or despair and as valid as those things might be, they are insignificant in comparison to your relationship with the Father. That’s all there is—no other agenda, no other failure, no other ministry, no other disappointment, no other vision, no other attempts to right all of the wrongs, and no other priority. By comparison to what had at one time been my own personal tendencies, Jesus was so focused on His relationship with His Father that nothing else mattered. As a result, everything else fell into place beautifully. His life was fruitful. His relationships were special. His ministry was bountiful, and His Story is amazing! A simple walk of faith in Him is the only thing that will get your story moving in the right direction! It is my hope to share His story, how it has impacted my story, and how every story, every path you are on, has been ransomed through Christ!
The chapters that follow in "A Rogue Story" are all about characters in the bible, characters in my story, a rogue sense of adventure, and how we can go about living out the story of Jesus in in our own lives.
1 Thess 5:16 Rejoice evermore!
In order to rejoice, I must know whose hands I’m in!
The Psalmist proclaimed, “This is the day the Lord has made, I will rejoice and be glad in it. That means that the hands of the Lord are what forms every day, good or bad and that in order to rejoice I must know who’s hands I’m in!
A basketball in my hands is worth about $19.
A basketball in Michael Jordan's hands is worth about $33 million.
It depends whose hands it's in.
A baseball in my hands is worth about $6. And is good for deterring would be thieves.
A baseball in Mark Mcguire's hands is worth $19 million.
It depends whose hands it's in.
A tennis racket is useless in my hands. More like a big boys fly swatter!
A tennis racket in Pete Sampras' hands is a Wimbledon Championship.
It depends whose hands it's in.
A rod in my hands will keep away a wild animal or poke me in the eye!
A rod in Moses' hands will part the mighty sea.
It depends whose hands it's in.
A slingshot in my hands is! a kid's toy and a good way to break a window!
A slingshot in David's hand is a mighty weapon.
It depends whose hands it's in.
Two fish and 5 loaves of bread in my hands is a couple of fish sandwiches and a lunch I’m probably not going to share. Two fish and 5 loaves of bread in God's hands will feed thousands. It depends whose hands it's in.
Nails in my hands might produce a couple of framed walls But,
Nails in Jesus Christ's hands will produce salvation for the entire world.
It depends whose hands it's in.
As you can see now, it all depends on whose hands it's in. And all you have to do today is put your concerns, your worries, your fears, your hopes, your dreams, your families and your relationships in God's hands because...
It all depends whose hands it's in!
Heard it from an Old Cowboy!
You are holy and unblameable and unre-proveable in His sight!
19 For it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell; 20 And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven. 21 And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled 22 In the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unre-proveable in his sight:
The world believes that reproof is the way of reconciling things. This philosophy plays out in our everyday life and even in some circles of Christianity. We think that if we can reprove those who have hurt us that it will bring resolve and closure to the circumstances that hurt us to begin with. In many cases related to reconciliation amongst the religious it can become awards based on the performance of the individual who needs reconciliation and is often based on merit before it is provided. Contrast these philosophies with the models in scripture for reconciliation and you will discover polar opposites to what we see in the Kingdom of this world.
The Kingdom Cowboy Perspective that we are given in scripture implies that reconciliation has nothing to do with us, and everything to do with Christ and the work of the Cross.
I love western settings and the ranching way of life. I have always wanted more of it and there is much less of it in my life than I have aspired to achieve., However, recently I have discovered that my story is actually the epitome of one of the oldest wrangler functions of all time… Roping!
Have you ever wondered or strayed like a calf or young steer? I would venture to say that we all have. All of us have been wounded, estranged, alienated, distanced, or have felt perpetually reproved by the herd. It is not only part of our story but it can leave us stuck in a mud hole or hobbled like we just threw a shoe. Anytime we have a wrong perspective on what reconciliation truly is, we will look first for reproof and resolve, never becoming truly satisfied through the reconciliation provided by Christ on the Cross of Calvary.
So what is the Wrangler way of reconciliation? Simply put, it is Col 1:19-22.
First, All things are reconciled to Him, through Him, and by Him. There is no mention of you or I anywhere in the text. No rules, steps, pre-qualifications, and nobody else involved in the peace process except for Christ and the blood he shed on the Old Rugged Cross. I didn’t even have to convince Christ that I needed to be reconciled. It’s like He already knew!
Christ is the ultimate wrangler and roper!
The Greek Wrangler word for Reconcile is “apokatallasso.” The first part of this Western style word is “apo” meaning any kind of separation of one thing from another by which union or fellowship is destroyed. It is physical distance of time and place. I guess my best example of it would be like a stray steer or heifer!
The second part of this Wrangler word is “katallasso” it would be the equivalent of lassoing a stray back into the favor of the herd, literally at the expense of trading one life for another. Let that sink for a minute!
This is what Christ does as the greatest Wrangler of all time. He didn’t just wrangle us in, He exchanged His life for ours. He paid the ultimate price to rope me in! Furthermore, He did it for the stray steer not the prize bull! Talk about a love knot in the lariat!
We have been completely returned to favor with God through the work of Christ. When we were away from Him, caught in the snare of the enemy, and wandering away, Jesus saddled up and with lasso in hand, He pulled us back into the fold when we were shut out from fellowship and intimacy. he loved us while we were yet wandering steer's!
So here is is this Cowboy's two cents about reconciliation. You are no longer reproved. You are reconciled into the body of His flesh. You wear the brand that came by the Cross, through His death, and He presents you now as holy and unblameable and unreproveable in His sight! Quite the Roper isn't He?
You who was once separated, allow yourself be roped back into perfect fellowship with Him! Wear the brand that nobody can remove from you, the brand that nobody else can provide for you. Reconciliation by Christ cost Him everything but He roped you anyway!
But Maybe That’s A Good Thing!
Day three of my recuperation from knee surgery has me contemplating many different things. (It’s not the drugs Just for the record!). The Lord has a way of bringing clarity to those who position themselves to wait on Him especially if you have desire for a work of the Spirit and you are becoming a person who anticipates the fullness of His Spirit as you walk in simple faith with Him. Regardless of whether or not this kind of pause and positioning in life are intentional and purposed or they are imposed like the recuperation process I am presently going through, God is faithful to teach us and grow us up through either posture or process but, that doesn’t mean you are going to always get what you want! One thing that I am learning is that all too often; pain, setbacks, weakness, inability to see what is ahead, are all the venues that the Lord has a tendency to show Himself strong in while at the same time He shapes us to be a perfect fit into the valleys that we go through so that we can be salt and light in difficult times. Post- Surgery I was optimistic that I was going to be breaking all the records for recovery. Raising the bar for other potential candidates of knee surgery! Day 3 has come and my resurrection has been postponed! What the Lord is teaching me in all of this is that He died and was resurrected so that I wouldn’t have to and so that none of us would be able to take any credit for what only He alone could do!
It’s funny how the Lord can position us in such a way so that when we are in our deepest need or things are toughest, He can turn the light on so to speak and reveal to us what His desires are for our life, along with what He wants us to learn, and what is important for us to understand in the process of shewing forth His Manifest Glory, and not ours! I have been able to reflect on how I view the world and how sometimes what I want is in conflict with what I need. I thought about how much stress I often create for myself by fixating on what I think I want instead of focusing on the things my mind, body and spirit need. I realized that if I stop chasing the things that I feel I should have, I won’t set myself up for disappointment when I don’t get them. It is becoming my belief that if I stop believing that something ought to be a certain way, I won’t be unfulfilled if it turns out differently than what I expected. Maybe the things that God has for me are better than the things I want anyway,! Maybe, building a sense of entitlement only hinders me from recognizing it.
Have you ever said to yourself. “I can’t just not go after the things I want in life because isn’t that what drive is all about anyway. If I don’t have drive, I won’t accomplish anything; if I don’t accomplish anything in life, I won’t be happy.” Thankfully, the more I grow in the Lord, those moments of panic become more brief and I realize that kind of thinking is incorrect. The Holy Spirit is faithful to bring a rush of calm when I am postured to tune in to Him. As it falls over me it is as if the God of this universe is gently telling me, “relax, I’ve got this!” He tells me to let go, and to trust that everything will be okay just rest in Me! Your personal drive and ambition may have gotten you far in life but, “how often have you tried to force a square peg in a round hole because you went after something you wanted just to say you achieved it? “ Or, “How often have you come up empty when I wasn’t the Author and Finisher of the direction you were going?”
Those thoughts sink in deeper as I consider how my actions can impact my kids, grandchildren, wife, family and those the Lord has given me. We can all remember experiences where If we look back there are situations where we wanted something for ourselves or someone else and the results were not what we expected. Or, we had a goal to make something happen because we wanted it, not because others did. That really makes us stop and think about whether or not our motives are in sync with His!
Wet can all understand the feeling when moments we thought were going our direction, build up and then fall flat on their face. Much like the process with my knee. Will I have a closer relationship with Christ if I stop worrying about the things I want and instead focus on what I really need and long for which is Him and the work that He has done?” The answer is a resounding… Yes!
All I know right now is that the Lord has given me the down time to try this on. In the process I will be learning to be better satisfied with His timing, His Flow, His perfect rest, and trust that He that is doing the work in me and for me because, when it comes down to it, the work is done! It is Finished! And although the finished results may look different in each of us, It still has the look of the Finished work of the Cross and the look of 3 days and a resurrection for those who walk in simple faith and who simply abide in what he is doing!
Allow me to give you the simple equation again! The work is done so, rest in it, and wait for it. This is the Simple walk of Faith that manifests his glorious resurrection in our lives.
Food for Thought!
Such tremendous power in restoration!
Galatians 6:1-2 (KJV)
1 Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such a one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted. 2 Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.
After having gone through this process personally, because of my own need for restoration along with the almost 7 years It has taken to see it play out. I have learned many things from my personal story and by the grace of God have a completely different perspective on matters of restoration.
First let me state my personal perspectives on what restoration should never look like.
Don’t Ignore the “lest thou also be tempted,” part!
Here are some of the good things I have seen in the process of my personal restoration. They have forever changed my thinking.
Food for Fought!
My how we have strayed from the New Covenant!
I’ve watched very closely and it seems to me that every moment, of every day provides some new method, some new covenant, some new inside edge on what to believe or how to belong. It seems to me that everyone has the inside edge on everything but Christ and Him Crucified. They will tell you that there is always more to it than just a simple walk of faith and resting in the promised seal of His Spirit for everyday living. It reminds me that anything that adds performance or work to the intended rest we are to walk in under the New Covenant, eventually dries up and dies!
Big Word "Ecclesiology" Explained!
It is the study of the Christian Church and the origins of Christianity however, sometimes it stops short in relationship to Jesus. Don’t get me wrong I’m a big fan of ecclesiology, the doctrines of the Church and how it operates in the lives of God’s people when it is a response to the work that He is doing in us and not just another millstone around the necks of His children. In Fact, a good understanding of ecclesiology is like saying sic’em to a dog when it comes to fulfilling our part in the body of Christ. We have been given scriptural mandates as a body of believers to be a place of comfort and compassion (2 Corinthians 1:3-7), a place where encouragement (1 Thessalonians 5:11) helps God’s people grow in knowledge and faith (1 Corinthians 14:3, 31), all for the glory of God.
As an individual member of the Body of Christ, He gives us all responsibilities within the local body.
Side note, but an Important one!
If God has moved on you to sign contracts, be committed to other covenants, and you belong to something you deeply care about then put this article down now. It is not intended to draw lines in the sand, or to cause division in the Body of Christ. I am a firm believer that He who began a work in each of us is faithful to complete it and that it may look differently for you than it does for me. I don't know how He is doing it but He promises to bring us all into the Unity of the Faith. Suffice it to say however, God has laid it on my heart to share the Good News that Christ made things very simple for one and all. Some in the Body of Christ tend to make it more difficult than it needs to be. They do it by burying the purposes of the church and responsibilities of its members beneath rules that have nothing to do with the church’s mission. It is then implied that there are other covenants and agreements to be made with men or the local church.
In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise,
1 John 4:1.
Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.
2 Corinthians 1:21-22
21 Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, 22 set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.
The problem with man's covenants is that they are often unbiblical, unneeded, do not bring unity, and alienate others.
The Old Testament is full of covenants God made with his people: Edenic, Noahic, Abrahamic, Mosaic, Davidic. If those aren’t familiar to you, don’t worry. The point is that God makes covenants – a type of binding promise – with his people. Today we live under the new and lasting covenant Jesus established. It had been promised in prophecy centuries before.
“The days are coming,” declares the Lord, “when I will make a new covenant with the people of Israel and with the people of Judah. It will not be like the covenant I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt, because they broke my covenant, though I was a husband to them,” declares the Lord. (Jeremiah 31:31-32.)
Under this New Covenant, God enables you to know him intimately.
“This is the covenant I will make with the people of Israel after that time,” declares the Lord. “I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. No longer will they teach their neighbor, or say to one another, ‘Know the Lord,’ because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest,” declares the Lord. “For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.” (Jeremiah 31:33-34.)
This is the promise Jesus brought to reality through his death and resurrection. I imagine his friends couldn’t help but recognize Jeremiah’s prophecy when, the night before his death, Jesus said to them at the Passover dinner:
“This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you. (Luke 22:20.)
This is the covenant God has with his people.
You are part of the body of Christ organically, that is, the Body of Christ is a single organism. Here are a few ways the Bible describes Christ’s body:
Every single one of those ways of looking at our place in the body of Christ – the church – is dependent on our relationship with Jesus, not with one another. And it is because of our relationship with Jesus that we are in relationship with one another. Your relationship with Jesus is under the new covenant that Jesus described to his disciples. It is the new relationship God promised he would create with his people. And this new covenant with God is the only one that counts.
And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another.” (Hebrews 10:24-25.)
God’s covenant with you leads to fellowship with others who are also in covenant with him. These are the relationships firmly supported by the Bible. And it’s all based on God’s covenant with you, not some extra-biblical covenant with other Christians, Clubs, Denominations, etc. After all, God’s the one who keeps covenants and promises perfectly, so let’s leave the covenanting up to him.
1 As a prisoner in the Lord, then, I urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling you have received: 2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, 3 and with diligence to preserve the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. 4 There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism; 6one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. 7 Now to each one of us grace has been given according to the measure of the gift of Christ.
Why is this so important to our understanding!
I run into a lot of folks who are constantly being taught to strive for more. These folks are bound up like a hound Dog trying to pass a peach pit! To me, this is like trying to catch a bus you’ve already caught! It is especially important for those of us who have been freed from religiosity to understand because we have leaned on dispensationalism and old covenants in the past. They became a hindrance to our understanding of the complete work of the New Covenant that Christ established because they are always packed with the emphasis on personal performance. I don’t know about you but the enemy tries to distract me enough from the perfect rest that comes in the finished work of the cross as it is. So, let’s take a fresh look at where we are at in this dispensation, right now as we are walking with and in Him.
But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. (1 Peter 2:9-10.) I like to phrase it this way:
I may never be the cool, mega-church pastor and I may never be used in the ways I was before, but make no mistake about it. I am on the inside of the only body that really matters, and it has room enough for all. I have no need of any other covenants because for those who have failed, those who live in fear, those who have been labeled, those who have been wounded, those who are weary and weak, flawed, scared, given up, shipwrecked, in prison, bitten by the enemy, and even the religious. Ours is the New Covenant and our position and authority is in Him.
Opps! I forgot to sign a contract with the one who justifies the ungodly! Am I really Righteous?
In Romans. Paul is shows the difference between being made right with God by works, as opposed to by faith. If we could be justified before God by works, Paul wrote in the previous verses, then God would owe us righteousness.
20 Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin. 21 But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; 22 Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference:
It would be like our paycheck for services rendered: a transaction with the God of heaven. Paul has already demonstrated in Romans, however, that nobody can accomplish this work. Instead, we all sin and fall short of God's glory (Romans 3:23).
So now Paul points to the opposite of earning something by work: receiving it as a gift. The difference comes in not laboring with a mind to "earn" or purchase that benefit. The one who receives a gift, as a gift, does not try to earn it. What would be the point? Instead, this person simply believes in the God who justifies the ungodly. His simple belief on the name of Jesus is what causes him to be declared righteous by God. There are no contractual agreements to be signed with the New Covenant, No defaults, tickets, citations, reprimands, condemnation, and no separation from the love of God for those who are in Christ Jesus. The Law was fulfilled once and for all by Christ. Paul gives a new descriptor to God: "the one who justifies the ungodly." This is the entire point of the gospel of Jesus Christ. God does not wait for us to become godly, or righteous on our own apart from Him, before welcoming us into His family. Because of our faith in righteous Jesus, God justifies us in spite of our sinfulness. There is no greater gift than this.
But to him who does not work but believes on Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted for righteousness,
Paul's point to his opponents, the Jewish religious leaders, is that this is from the teachings of Scripture itself and not something he has invented so, look to the only Covenant that matters and enjoy the New Covenant for this Dispensation!
The one who tied my shoes and zipped my britches!
Never did I fully understand the impact that a single person could have on my life until I met my Kindergarten teacher. She was the epitome of Grace and it’s work in the lives of those who lack understanding on matters of navigating life. You know… like tying your shoes and zip’n your pants. I truly would have stumbled around or exposed myself much worse in life, had it not been for the teacher of grace that she was in my formative years. She in my kindergarten year was the object of my affection and in my eyes the most beautiful person on the planet. She had a way at putting me at ease when it came to learning my letters and how to spell my last name. You see, I had come to the conclusion that life as I new it would be insufferable and difficult for me. I would never make it into the first grade with a last name like Fairrington. My buddy had been blessed with the good name of Cox. Three letters to my Eleven!!! He could sign his name to his papers and be done with his work while I was still writing out my last name. In a world that seemed so unfair, there was only one thing that would get me through to the next grade. It was Grace! Grace that would teach me, Grace that was slow to anger, Grace that would teach me how to keep from stumbling, grace that covered me when I was exposed and feeling unworthy. Yes, it was Grace! Teaching me then and it is Grace that teaches us all how to walk in Godliness.
Titus 2:11-14 (KJV)
For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world;
Grace is what brings Holiness. It does not demand anything from us. Its work is done for us. I thought it would be something more along the lines of me proving to you that its work is present in my life. I thought it was based on an evaluation of my performance by others. I thought that it could only be substantiated by the recognition, evidence and validation of those who have been wounded by me before I could move on. Now some would say that this is just another way to embrace sloppy grace and continue in sin but look at what the verse says. “Grace teaches us to be Holy”, “Grace teaches us how to say no to sin” More than the Law, More than Religion, More than my self-righteousness, More than my commitments, covenants, piety, or performance, more than anything else Grace is teaching me to be Holy. It is teaching me how to not stumble! This is why we forgive one another, This is why we love each other through the ugliness of life. When I really grasp that God is gracious and slow to anger in my heart, it doesn’t cause or encourage me to sin more, it causes me to sin less. So my understanding of grace is that it is provided not because of sin and not so we can continue in sin, but it teaches us so that we can know how to say no to sin.
When you finally realize you are kindergartner and in the most unqualified state for God’s favor and yet have received the teacher of grace anyway, now all you want is to rest and to walk in the ways of God because His grace is the teacher and she is beautiful, and loves you, and makes you feel as if you are the most important kid in the room!
The Holiest thing you can do is to rest in the finished work of the cross of Christ. You cannot add to Jesus’ work. When we rest from our own works in order to merit Gods favor and blessings, we are honoring Jesus for a job well done!
No more effort on my part. Its all Him, all Jesus.
Never let anyone make you feel guilty for resting in His Grace. It is teaching us to be Holy!
Jimmy's core beliefs on conscience will get you killed!
Let this mind be in you!
5 Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: 6 Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: 7 But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: 8 And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.
A Cricket Tried To Kill Me!
The statement “Always let your conscience be your guide, is a profound one if you are a singing cricket with a top hat!” I personally believe that if that perspective becomes one of your core beliefs, eventually it will only produce depression, anxiety, and a trip to the loony bin. Scripture is right when it proclaims that “there is a way that seems right unto man.” It was that kind of Cricket mentality, pride, and self-dependency, that just about killed me. It’s true! A dependence on your self-proclaimed spiritual prowess and matters of conscience will produce the kinds of beliefs that will lead you off course in your simple and restful walk of faith.
Contrary to the hyper-spiritual concepts we have embraced, the Bible has a much different view on the matter than we have adventured out to discover. It tells us that while your conscience may be a good helper, it is also a harsh master. Whenever there are negative implications linked with conscience in the Bible and when words like sinful, evil, defiled or seared are used in conjunction with conscience, it always pertains to the self-effort of one who is striving to appease their conscience apart from the finished work of the Cross. The only way sinful man can have a perfect conscience is by having it covered with the blood of Christ. When we look at The Book of Hebrews in the Bible, any other conscience is a “sinful” conscience and it always results in “dead works.” When I engaged in works to appease my conscience, those works become tainted and impure in motivation. In my spiritual pride I thought I could fix people, denominations, and the church. These perspectives are a direct result of compensating for sin or failures and thus become self-serving at their very foundation. Simply put, this kind of conscience and core belief is nothing more than a mission of self-righteousness because it doesn’t come from a pure conscience.
Identify the presence of Self-Righteousness.
Just a few Examples and Statements of a self-righteous conscience (See more in Galatians 5):
What the Bible does refer to, as a pure conscience is one that is absent of ulterior motives and hidden agendas. That can only stem from a “perfect” conscience. Simply put, it is in resting in the Finished Work of the Cross that our conscience finally finds perfection and rest. It is there that we are freed from the mind numbing guilt, depression, and self-righteous spirit that will drive us straight into the mental ward.
1 Corinthians 15:10 KJV
 But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.
Despite my newfound conscience and a changed heart there are still some who would say that I am a botched up mess and that I don't warrant or deserve grace on any level. That is because my cup is perpetually dirty on the outside but clean on the inside! So, I always reply by saying, You would be right! But here is the deal, I am what I am by His grace! It wasn't something I acquired or earned, or even traded up for. It was given freely to me by the Lord and not in vain as some would suspect, He filled my dirty on the outside cup and made me clean on the inside!
After Jesus had called Lazarus forth, Lazarus’ sisters were given the responsibility of simply removing his grave clothes. I am most certain that he had a look of death about him and quite possibly a stench about him while still wrapped up in the rags of his past. But they didn’t say we can’t be around him nor, did they take the position that Jesus hadn’t really brought life to one who was once dead. To often we disassociate with people who have been brought to life but are still in their grave cloths. The fact of the matter is, we are all packing around a few pieces of the old wrappings. So, try not to be so offended by my old grave clothes that you won’t fellowship with me, lest we make the grace which was bestowed upon each of us in vain. I simply need help to get these grave clothes off! And by the way… So do you!
Now I am free to live in His grace and with a clean conscience but my labor characteristics have changed! Now I labor even more! Not to boast in my self righteous pride or to be a spiritual authority and not for the sake of laboring to be recognized by my good works but now I labor to stand firm in the grace that is with me and unto rest in the work that His grace is already doing! Furthermore I can rest in knowing that He has bestowed His grace upon you too and that it was not in vain!
2 Corinthians 12:9 KJV
 And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
The work is done and the rest has begun! His strength has been made perfect even while you're in grave clothes and you are at your weakest point. Yes I have failed and so have you so let’s together glory in the fact that even though there are inadequacies and the outside of our cup may be a little dirty, the power of Christ is resting upon us! Your cup is clean and full on the inside!
Be free, keep your faith simple, and walk in forgiveness with a clean, perfect conscience, through the Shed Blood of Jesus Christ today! Anything else, tramples on Jesus the One who became sin, the One who became the worst version of me, the One who stood in our place and took all of God's wrath so that you and I could be free from the guilt, condemnation, and judgment that we all deserved. Why would we ever want to deprive ourselves of such amazing grace? Unless of course our confidence is rooted in the strength of our own flesh.
The purpose of this thought is to unpack the sin of spiritual pride and self-sufficiency and to remove your grave cloths.
Miracles Await! So Here’s Spit in Your Eyes!
When we finally get what it means to live a simple walk of faith and focus on the Faithful One... Your Miracles Await! So Here’s Spit in Your Eyes!
Did I just really say that?
I know the above statement may sound foreign to the typical culturally relevant train of thought so allow me to lay the groundwork for some simple thoughts and conversations that I have had all by my onesie with the Lord.
Have you ever wondered “Why did Jesus use spit for some of His miracles?” Our pastor Ben touched on this some time ago and because I am a big proponent of a walk of simple faith, I have often pondered this subject and worked through some things as I converse with the Lord bout stuff.
In Mark's Gospel, somewhere near Decapolis, some people brought Jesus a deaf man who could hardly talk. Jesus healed the man, of course, but in an interesting manner; “Jesus put his fingers into the man’s ears. Then he spit and touched the man’s tongue” (Mark 7:33). Later, in the town of Bethsaida, Jesus healed a blind man. Again, the miracle was preceded by spitting: “He... spit on the man’s eyes and put his hands on him” (Mark 8:23). To heal a man born blind, Jesus “spit on the ground, made some mud with the saliva, and put it on the man’s eyes” (John 9:6).
Certainly, Jesus, the divine Son of God, does not need physical props to work miracles. In many cases, Jesus merely spoke, and healing followed (Matthew 15:28; Luke 17:12-14). Yet, in three cases, Jesus used His spittle in the process of healing. One possible reason for Jesus’ use of His saliva has to do with the beliefs of His contemporary culture. Several Roman writers and Jewish rabbis considered saliva to be a valid treatment for blindness. Since the people of that day had a high view of saliva’s healing properties, Jesus used spit to communicate His intention to heal. Those being healed would have naturally interpreted Jesus’ spitting as a sign that they would soon be cured.
Whose Faith Is Really At Work Here?
Now the verse that really jumps out at me is the one in Mark 8:23. It says, “And he took the blind man by the hand, and led him out of the town; and when he had spit on his eyes, and put his hands upon him, he asked him if he saw ought.”
There are those who would say that the greater need of each of those who were healed required the need for increased, proportional faith. I like to work through this perspective differently than others may so allow me to break it down this way. I say, "It was the Faith of Jesus that produced the miracle, not the profound faith of the person being healed."
We are all equally faithless when you think through it!
One thing to consider is that each individual was equally faithless; otherwise they all would have already been healed. Then, there is the matter of spit. The last time someone spit in your eye… Did it get your attention? I believe the whole point was not to increase their faith but rather to get them to put their focus on the One who is Faithful!
For too long in life I have tried to increase my faith, speak things into existence, exert my own spiritual fortitude. Could it be that Jesus the Faithful One just wants my focus and attention? Could it be that all this time He has been taking me away from the common beliefs on matters of profound faith to get me alone, to redirect my focus off of the issues and the questions about how I am going to survive or get through the day and simply put my focus on Him?
You see… When we are weak He is Faithful! Now feel free to go get rid of all those anointed prayer cloths you paid good money for while you were waiting for your miracles.
2 Tim 2:13 NIV
“if we are faithless, he remains faithful, for he cannot disown himself.”
Could it be that the key to seeing increased but simplistic faith produced in my life is as simple as getting away with Jesus? 1 Corinthians 1:9 says, “God is faithful, by whom ye were called unto the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord.”
In Mark 8, Jesus called this blind, faithless man away. He literally takes him by the hand and leads him out of town away from all other influence and the man begins to connect what little faith he has to the One who is faithful. Look at the flow in the process of developing simple faith. Let it saturate your heart.
First, Jesus, after spitting in this man’s eyes and putting His hands on the man, asked him, “Do you see anything?” I like that! Jesus is not expressing His own lack of faith, instead He is taking this man on a journey of anticipation and simple expectation that the work is being done. He is learning to lean on and depend on Jesus and His faithfulness. Slowly, the man begins to get it. Things are still fuzzy but he realizes there is something happening in His life. Jesus now puts His hands on the blind man’s eyes and he is fully restored.
The real miracle is not the physical eyesight being restored. It is this man embracing and understanding what a walk of simple trust and faith in Jesus is! Once this happens, Jesus tells the man, “Don’t go back!”
Mark 8:23-26 (KJV)
23 And he took the blind man by the hand, and led him out of the town; and when he had spit on his eyes, and put his hands upon him, he asked him if he saw ought.
24 And he looked up, and said, I see men as trees, walking.
25 After that he put his hands again upon his eyes, and made him look up: and he was restored, and saw every man clearly.
26 And he sent him away to his house, saying, neither go into the town, nor tell it to any in the town.
I have a real tendency to revert back to the old perspectives that would imply that my profound faith had something to do with a needed miracle. I have an old cowboy poem called Jake the Rancher. It was handed down to me by a person I call a good friend because of the simplicity that he once shared with me when I was failing miserably in my walk and ministry. His name is Gayle Erwin and this poem is a perfect example of the misunderstandings we cultivate convoluting simplicity in our walk and the work Jesus does.
Jake, The Rancher
Jake, the rancher, went one day to fix a distant fence. The wind was cold and gusty and the clouds rolled gray and dense. As he pounded the last staples in and gathered tools to go, The temperature had fallen and the snow began to blow.
When he finally reached his pickup, he felt a heavy heart, from the sound of that ignition, he knew it wouldn't start. So Jake did what most of us do, if we'd have been there He humbly bowed his balding head and sent aloft a prayer.
As he turned the key for the last time, he knew he'd lost his luck, They found him three days later, frozen stiff in that old truck. Now Jake had been around in life and done his share of roamin' But when he saw Heaven, he was shocked -- it look just like Wyomin'.
Oh, there were some differences of course, but just some minor things, One place had simply disappeared -- the town they called Rock Springs. The BLM had been shut down, and there was no grazin' fees, and the wind in Rawlins and Cheyenne was now a gentle breeze. (cont…)
The Park and Forest Service folks -- they didn't fare so well, They'd all been sent to fight some fire in a wilderness called Hell. Though Heaven was a real nice place, Jake had a wondering mind, So he saddled up and lit a shuck, not know'n what he'd find.
Then one day up in Cody, on a cold fall afternoon, He saw St. Peter coming, and he knew he'd be there soon. Of all the saints in Heaven, his favorite was St. Peter, Now, this line, it ain't needed but it helps with rhyme and meter.
So they set and talked a minute or two, or maybe it was three, Nobody was keepin' score -- in Heaven time is free. "I've always heard," Jake said to Pete, "that God will answer prayers, But one time I asked for help, well he just plain wasn't there.
Does God answer prayers of some, and ignores the prayers of others? That don't seem exactly square -- I know all men are brothers. Or does he randomly reply, without good rhyme or reason? Maybe, it's the time of day, the weather or the season.
Now I ain't trying to act smart, it's just the way I feel, And I was wonderin', could you tell -- what the heck's the deal? Peter listened very patiently and when Jake was done, There were smiles of recognition, and he said, "So, you're the one!
That day your truck, it wouldn't start, and you sent your prayer a-flying, You gave us all a real bad time, with hundreds of us a trying. A thousand angels rushed to check the status of your file, But you know, Jake, we hadn't heard from you in quite a while
And though all prayers are answered, and God ain't got no quota, He didn't recognize your voice, and started a truck in North Dakota.
As humorous as it may seem, we go through life lacking in faith, and absent of the peace and rest that comes from the faithful one!
My final, stupid, simple, silly, observation.
Now, to further illustrate what simple faith is and that it has nothing to do with my merit, tune in to this for just one final moment. I was seated on the throne in our back throne room the other day pondering all the places I had looked for my keys over the last 45 minutes, while I did my morning business. I was late, frustrated, and had given up all hope when from my lofty perch, I threw up a prayer for a miracle. “Jesus,” I said, “You alone hold the keys, now would you help me find mine?” Three minutes later I had my keys and was on my way. I have had this scenario play out more times and in more ways than I can count now and I know you have too! You see, It is never because of our spiritual prowess or posture, rather, it is because of his faithfulness that miracles happen every day in the most naturally supernatural way.
Questions to Ponder…
Unpacking My Flawed State!
Unpacking My Flawed State!
How do I revel in Grace when being perpetually reminded of my sins? First, it is helpful to come to grips with the fact that we are all equally born into sin, equally can’t fulfill the Law, and therefore equally depraved. All this time, I thought that I was just a special kind of stupid when it came to sin! As it turns out, we’re all in the same boat!
Let me give you an understanding of what I have walked through as a commoner to prequalify what I am about to say to you. Please note that the intent is not to unearth a dead body here! The purpose is to simply identify everything that is common to man and relevant to the days we live in presently and to tell you my story so that may walk in newness and freedom in Christ.
I am a man with a call on my life. Understanding just what that looks like has been difficult and convoluted for most of my life. I can surmise that there are many reasons for this. Some of the reasons deal with influence, others deal with denomination, some with family or work, and some of it has to do with being gifted with the ability to do many things. But, the one major underlying factor running congruent with and intertwined in all of what I have done and where I have been is that of my own Sin. Ah… There it is! The S… word. I ever avoid it to place the blame on my surrounding circumstances.
With men, so often it is packed in an onboard characteristic called pride. From a young age we are taught to take pride in an assortment of things. We make them the object of our affections ultimately transferring our accomplishments to be a reflection of our self. It subtly roots itself into our very make-up without us being aware it and then when it has its firm grasp, it manifests its ugly side in ways that clutter our ability to navigate life, make decisions, understand God’s will, and walk in the freedom of simple faith and justification that comes by the work of Christ.
How did this all play out in my life? Just like it does with all of us! At a very young age. I’ll bet we can all remember the very first lessons on how to hide our sin. For some, it starts with hidden promiscuity, with others it is drinking, or drugs. We sneak off, or out when no one is watching. We hide our true feelings, we fail to look for the signs in each other because we are too busy trying to measure up to someone else's standards. We self train ourselves to be the bearer of our own burdens rather than bearing one another's burdens, absent of guilt and condemnation. That is why we hide everything and it is also why it often takes many years and even into adulthood to have the bonds of living with our sin secretly come to the place where they are loosed once and for all. We perpetually deal with the consequences of sin in many areas of life simply because we do not have a good understanding of the work of Christ on the cross.
As time goes by Sin polishes and packages our pride to be the perfect bedfellow. If you are one of the folks who gravitate towards religion rather than relationship, it becomes easy to embrace perspectives that are not scriptural and embrace the mindset of adapting scripture to propagate a position of spiritual pride. We will manipulate others with our spiritual prowess and biblical knowledge; everything seems to be in perfect place while at our core there is a continual battle. A battle for a right spirit, a clean heart, a clear conscience, where our very freedom seems to escape us at every turn leaving us confused, bitter, worked up, judgmental, isolated and alone.
This is where I found myself, disillusioned with ministry, unable to track the right path, the narrow path, the old path of the Lord. I was buried in sin and pride to the point that it had affected those around me. At the point that spiritual pride had unraveled me internally, life around me began to unravel. In a season when I should have been at my best, I allowed myself to walk in weakness. There are no reasons to go into the depths of my depravity any longer, thank you Lord! When I first wrote the book, “The Simple Jesus” I went deep into the nature of my old dead body. When it comes right down to it though, all have sinned! Now, and for your own simplicity, you can just make the assumption that in regards to John Fairrington that there was a swamp full of varied sin and that it was all drained, forgiven, and forgotten, just like yours was!
As a result of all of my sin, suicidal tendencies, fear of losing my wife, along with the physical pain and medical misdiagnosis of what was happening in my body, my discretion and ability to do what was right had been refashioned into the justification for my flawed state and blindness to my own sin. My loneliness and lack of intimacy in my relationship with God led to finding satisfaction elsewhere and the outcome ultimately destroyed relationships and trust. After having walked for many years with folks who we thought would be there though our difficulties, very few of them knew our struggles and that is when my wife and I came to the realization that Jesus was the only one who could fix us.
God Had a Purpose!
When I began to repent, my eyes were opened to not only my own depravity but I began to see the flaws in how we as believers navigate unbiblical perspectives handed down over generations and the impact that it has had on the church, our families, and each other. Justification at the foot of the cross is a level playing field. The sins of the accusers are just the same as the accused. This is especially hard for the religious to wrap their heads around. Even today there are only a handful of people I know who can and are willing to walk along side of us through this kind of process. Even to this day some who were co-laborers and piers in ministry or, folks who I asked to partner with me in mutual accountability, and those who heard my confession have had little contact with me.
There are many who teach and understand the biblical principles of Romans and the wonderful work of grace and justification but, very few who follow the patterns of Jesus and the 2 Corinthians perspectives of Paul. Religious leaders can often be found rallying to the cause of the offended and hoping that the sin factors and the offenders will just go away. Religious protocol is followed forgetting the fact that whether we are the offender, or the offended, we all deserve the penalty of death as much as we all get to experience and receive restoration at the foot of the cross. This has unfortunately been a very present part of the cultural christianity movement.
How Do We Know That We Are All Guilty?
3 For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me.
4 Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight: that thou mightest be justified when thou speakest, and be clear when thou judgest.
5 Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me.
David took responsibility for his sin. “Against Thee, Thee only have I sinned,” he said. Sin declares guilt!
People will ask, “What about Uriah and Bathsheba?” “Didn’t David sin against them?”
Yes! They were innocent victims perhaps but sinners nonetheless. We rush to place blame, thinking there must be someone who is wrong and someone who is innocent. But that’s not scriptural, for we’re all guilty (Romans 3:23). We’re all in need of salvation. Nevertheless, so often the victim is embraced with open arms and the offender is left to isolation.
It’s Not That Way with Jesus!
But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets.
1. Justification is apart from the law. If you’re trying to relate to the Father on the basis of your own goodness or devotion, your consistency or your Bible study, your do’s and don’ts—you’ll never be justified. The law cannot justify you. It can only bring you to the realization that you are a sinner in need of a Savior.
Even the righteousness of God which is by faith…
2. Justification is by faith in the Lord. Our justification comes from our being linked not to God generally, but to Jesus Christ personally. Do you have a general relationship where you say “I’m religious,” or, do you have an intimate relationship with the Lord. James says the demons believe in God, but they’re not saved. They’re not justified. They won’t be in heaven (James 2:19). It’s not enough for a person to say, “I believe in God and go to church.” No, he must believe in the Lord Jesus Christ because the source of justification lies embedded in the Person and work of Jesus.
Romans 3:22 (cont.)
…of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference.
3. Justification is for everyone. Whether Jew or Gentile, yuppie or hippie, heathen or Hebrew—there’s only one way to enter into salvation: by faith. It’s not faith in what you’ve done or who you are, it’s not my fickle faith in Jesus Christ. Simply put, it is just believing that it is the faithfulness of Jesus towards me, in me, and for me. It is the belief that he loved me while I was ungodly so much so that He gave up his own life so a wretch like me could have new life being perfectly, completely and instantaneously justified!
If you are a man or woman who has been weighed down with sinful pride then I hope that this will be a fresh starting point for you. It really is simple! And although there may be few around you who understand what you are going through, know this, if you can just place your faith in the faithfulness of Jesus and you can confess your sins and failures right now, it will put you back on the right path, the narrow path, the old path and you can take your next steps being fully, instantaneously, and gloriously justified through the faithfulness of Jesus Christ. Simple!
2 Corinthians 11:3 (KJV)
But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtlety, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.
Christ puts simplicity and peace into our faith and for you who have walked in condemnation from your sins and failures, Jesus has declared you the innocent ones. Don’t allow anyone to subtly corrupt your new found simplicity in Christ.
Romans 8:1 (KJV)
There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.