Crutch or Cure


I know many people, and I myself have been included in this list, who have viewed their relationship with Christ as a crutch; the idea of grace as merely a “go-to” when they’ve messed up. The Christian life, in the eyes of these misled men and women, is powerless and not that different to the life they had before Christ. Sure, there is thankfulness for the gift of a savior who they can fall back on or “lean on” when their life isn’t going too well or they’re caught up in some bad decisions. However, Jesus is placed in a box, their Christian walk also in a box only to come out in certain settings or around certain people, and there are areas of their lives labeled “off-limits.” These people are surprised when they can’t seem to get out of the addictions that have plagued them or continue to make the same bad decisions day after day or month after month. These people are stuck.


Jesus is not our crutch, He is our cure! A cure is defined as a means of healing or restoring to health and/or a remedy. Accepting Jesus into our hearts is not like buying insurance, it’s like open-heart surgery (Ezekiel 36:26). Grace is not merely a means of being forgiven by God, but a powerful force of change in our lives (Titus 2:11-14). The Christian life is not about covering up the old self but nailing it to the cross (Galatians 2:20). The call by Jesus is not, “I’m here whenever you need me,” it’s more like, “die to your old self and come after me and you’ll experience a life you’ve never imagined possible!” (John 10:10) Jesus came to make us new, to cure us of the old sinful desires, to help us overcome, to give us the power to be more than conquerors! We don’t have to sin, or be passive, or follow after the lusts of this world because Christ set us free from all of that!

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!”

2 Corinthians 5:17

Eyes on the Prize

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What matters most in life? Is it our health and wellbeing?  How about our legacy? Maybe it’s the good things we do for others or the longevity of our time here on earth. All of us answer the question solely based on our worldview. Our worldview informs our place in this world and the purpose of our existence. It’ll determine the things we pursue and how we measure success. It’ll either help us through hard times or leave us blowing in the wind. In the challenging times that we live, we need to be able to answer this question.

If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.  Colossians 3:1-2 ESV

For believers in Jesus, our view of the world and our place in it should never change. Viruses, wars, famines, human trafficking, and all other hardships and evils don’t have to alter our perspectives. When God created mankind, he gave them a place in all of creation. That place is to rule alongside Him. Humanity is ingrained with the calling of bringing God’s kingdom to His creation. The above passage in Colossians reminds us to stay focused on that calling…to keep our eyes heavenward. As people all around the world are suffering, the opportunities for the Kingdom of Heaven to be extended on earth are even greater.  As emotions are reeling and anxieties are rampant, Christians need to be that steady voice of hope and victory.

For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. Romans 8:5 ESV

Our command to love has not changed. If anything, people are more desperate than ever for sincere love and generosity. As I see people rush to the stores to hoard supplies out of pure self-preservation, the need for selfless love has rarely been more obvious. People are buying things they don’t need and putting at risk those who actually do need them. In tough times our truest character is revealed. The time is now for Christians to rise up and be a beacon of hope and light during these dark days. As people gather all they can, we need to be giving all we can. As people fear uncertainty, we need to proclaim the certainty of God’s love for them. As the pain of loss ravages families all over the world, we need to be sharing the peace that comes through the power of the Holy Spirit. In the face of economic trials, we need to be reminding the world of how God provides for His children.

If it wasn’t before, it should be obvious by now that our lives are in the hands of another. And that’s actually a good thing. We don’t need vaccines nearly as much as we need repentance. Government bailouts are great but what we really need is more humility before our maker.  God redeems lives. God sustains life. And we need to spend our days participating in His mission of love to a hurting world. Let’s do our part to shine for God’s glory because that is what matters most in life.

You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house.In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.    Matthew 5:14-16 ESV

Peace in Christ brothers and sisters!

Fascination

Teach us to marvel again, to be fascinated with the Good News of Jesus Christ, that God became a human.

Francis Chan

I am as guilty as anyone when it comes to routine readings of the Bible. When I heard Francis Chan say these words I realized how much of an injustice it was to passively read the words of Jesus and not marvel. How dare we treat them as just letters on page. God’s word contains life and power and the gospel is anything but ordinary. Lord please forgive our moments of indifference. May your abundant mercies cover our times of apathy. Restore in us an awestruck wander every time we read your words. Help us to feel the full weight of the gospel’s beauty and magnificence.

Jesus and the Unknown

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I don’t think that Jesus meant for life as His disciples to be safe. His invitations included picking up our cross and following Him, going to the ends of the earth, reaching out to the outcasts of society, loving our enemies, hating sin, crucifying our selfish desires, leaving what we know, and waging a spiritual war that sees people freed from bondage. None of that is safe.

Every single day we are met with choices that either lead us into His presence or distract us from it. Just like Peter, a disciple of Jesus had the choice to walk out on the water to meet Jesus or let security keep him in the confines of the wooden vessel. We either step out of the boat and walk on the water with Jesus or we stay in the boat and ignore His call. We can’t do both. But to step out of the boat enters us into the unknown. Will we sink? Even worse, will we drown? Or will He give us the ability to walk on the waters?

The boat is safe. The known is safe. But the call of Jesus brings us to the precipice where we can leap and allow Him to give us wings or turn and walk the safe and spiritually dull life. Our faith is not meant to be kept to ourselves. His love is not something to be selfish with. That faith and love should move us into action. We should be speaking up, standing up, rising up for truth and love. Forget political correctness. The world needs spiritual correctness. The world needs to see people brought to life by the power His love. The world needs us to get out of the boat. The world needs us to forsake our comfort and reach out.

We can walk the day to day grind with our blinders on. Or we can choose to keep our gaze out for others in need, for opportunities to disrupt our routines, and moments to sacrifice on behalf of others.  Perhaps the reason so many of us get weighed down with boredom or worldly concerns is that we’ve lost sight of our Lord’s call…to love Him and to make His love known.

You keep him in perfect peace
    whose mind is stayed on you,
    because he trusts in you.
Trust in the Lord forever,
    for the Lord God is an everlasting rock.

Isaiah 26:3-4 ESV

Peace in Christ brothers and sisters!

Unknown

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Life is but a series of choices.

Two or three paths that may be wandered at any given moment.

One would have been walked many times before.

Another is new yet the destination is not unknown.

As one gazes into the third the distance is blinded from view.

It is easy to be torn.

Thoughts of venturing the first two paths may dull the senses.

The drudgery of certainty weighs down enthusiasm.

But that same certainty screams of safety.

The more one ponders the more one may be drawn to the unknown.

Your feet could be standing at the precipice.

But you could also be given wings to fly.

 

 

Peace in the pursuit

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Now there is great gain in godliness with contentment, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content” 1 Timothy 6:6-8 ESV

I once heard it said that our level of faith can be measured by our level of contentment. Contentment is one of those things that may seem pretty allusive at times. But perhaps that’s because our faith wavers at times. With the highs and lows of this life, we can sometimes have a difficult time maintaining this steady sense of calm. That’s usually due to the fact that our calm is based upon the conditions we find ourselves. When we allow our emotions to be on a roller coaster our actions will most definitely follow suit. The game-changer for all of us is that God will come through in our hardest times and in our greatest times. It may not look the way we expect or plan for ourselves. God remains the same despite our circumstances and when we live from a place of trust in Him then we can remain in that steady calm sense of satisfaction. No matter how much we have or how little, no matter how hard things are or how easy, God loves us. Through life in Christ, we can have all the riches of His grace. Praise God for that!

I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.  Philippians 4:12 ESV

Paul could say this with confidence because he had lived it. He had gone from a wealthy man of power in the priesthood of Israel, enjoying the comforts of that life, to walking the missionary path. He had to work hard to continue each journey. Along the way, he got beaten down, ridiculed, and imprisoned multiple times. Paul lived a life of extremes. And through it all, he kept his eyes of God. His path on the way of pursuing Jesus mattered more than what obstacles popped up along the way. For me, that’s where I hope to be. Despite any health problems, stresses with bills, the burdens of work, or any other trials that may come up, I want to maintain that steady peace that comes in the pursuit of Jesus.

And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:19 ESV

Peace in Christ brothers and sisters!