This morning, I sat down with the intention of reading Psalm 127. As with any compelling text it was hard to put the book down and before long I was at Psalm 130. While I've read this often often enough before, verse 4 stood out for me in light of recent conversations with non-Christians.
When asked about their sin, many people from various religious backgrounds will tell you that they expect God to just forgive their sins. This forgiveness might come from good works, ritualistic religion, or the belief that God is love and we're all headed for some cosmic group hug.
3 If you, O Lord, should mark iniquities,
O Lord, who could stand?
4 But with you there is forgiveness,
that you may be feared.
The problem with this attitude of assumed forgiveness is there is no fear. There is none of the healthy and God-honouring respectful fear that should be present when confronted with the almighty and perfectly holy God.
With the God of the bible, there is forgiveness in spades - bountiful forgiveness available to any who would repent and believe. But this forgiveness does not come cheaply, but cost the blood of Jesus, God's own Son. To lazily presume upon that forgiveness is to reject the fear that is the beginning of wisdom, and dishonour the holiness of God - and ultimately, to miss out on that forgiveness.
Like most Christians, I think, I find it very easy to come to God each day with a laundry list of requests. However, I know I'm guilty of not often enough reflecting on the ways that God answers prayer.
This morning I was opening my notebook to write out a list of Pros & Cons for an important decision I needed to pray about. I flipped to the back of the book and found a bullet point list of prayer requests Id written down from the week of Sept 14-20, 2008. Reading through that list was a good reminder to me of where our family was a year ago, what was on our minds, and of all the ways the Lord has answered these requests throughout the last year. I can happily report that He has been completely faithful and met every need.
Here are a few highlights:
It has been on my mind for a few weeks to dig up an old post on Christian modesty that takes the clothing issue beyond "Is it pretty?" and asks: "Is it helpful, or is it hurtful, to my brothers in Christ?" In my mind I had incorrectly attributed authorship to Paul Martin, so it wasn't until I expanded my search that I found the article was actually published on the Pyromaniacs blog. Annually. Ya - I'm out of the loop. Deal with it :)
While I strongly recommend reading the entire article, "Sister, Show Mercy!," here are a couple of quotes:
Sister, if there's one thing you and I can certainly agree on, it's this: I don't know what it's like to be a woman, and you don't know what it's like to be a man. We're both probably wrong where we're sure we're right, try as we might. So let me try to dart a telegram from my camp over to the distaff side.
This is... church? So here comes this brother into the assembly of the saints, hoping for a rest from the battles of the week, a moment to regroup, sing, pray, get the Word, fellowship. He looks up to the choir, or to his left or his right — and in a tick of the clock, he's facing the same struggle he faced every time he turned on his TV, opened a magazine, or went down a city street. He's seeing things that make it far too easy for him not to keep his mind focused where it needs to be focused.
Dan Phillips does an excellent job of treading the line between excusing men from accountability for our thoughts and giving women the freedom to freely display all the assets God has blessed them with.
My beloved GFC is not immune to this problem, and while I doubt there is malicious intent, I am certain there is a lack of consideration. Since Dan is a much more gifted author than I, I will leave you to read the entire piece.
Bonus: Just in case the you need a little more provocation, be sure to read through the comments from previous years!
There are few better things in life than being greeted joyfully by your kids. Most mornings I can expect to see a very excited pair of brown eyes peeking over the child gate and bouncing with anticipation as I come down the hall. Each day as I come home from work I am attacked by two pint-sized blurs desiring hugs and smooches, who are simultaneously trying to talk over each other to tell me about their activities of the day.
One more than one occasion last week Janis and I were out for evening activities and we relied on babysitters to watch over our kids. The LORD has blessed our church family with many amazing young ladies, single and married, who are very willing to serve families in this way. A strange thing happens, though, on the mornings after Mom & Dad have been away.
Rather than waking up and calling for or seeking out Mom and Dad, it's not unusual to hear cries of: "April?" or "Caroline?" or "Cora?" or "Jill?" coming from the back of the house. On those mornings our kids are not desiring their parents - sometimes they are even a little disappointed when we come into view.
The usual eager anticipation of seeing Mom and Dad has often reminded me of how the church is supposed to eagerly await the return of Jesus. But I wonder, too, how often do we get distracted by the temporary things God has given for us to enjoy in the moment, that we lose focus on Christ? How often are we like me children who wake with their minds still on the last night's fun with an awesome yet temporary babysitter instead of the parents who love and provide for them daily?
So, Church of God ... what's on your mind this morning? Are you (we) thinking more of the temporary than of the fulfillment and the sustainer? If told that Christ were returning at this moment, would we rejoice wholeheartedly or would you feel even a little disappointment at some earthly thing left undone?