“A Lifestyle of Repentance” Part 2

“Some judged them (mostly Christians), but many were blown away by this real life testimony of the Gospel.”

A few days ago I posted “A Lifestyle Of Repentance” Part 1. Today will conclude the post with a practical, everyday story of two individuals who I have had the pleasure of watching live out this type of lifestyle over the past 9 months. They are ordinary people, but their love for Jesus is nothing short of radical. I was blessed to perform their wedding a few months ago. I introduce to you Ty & Emily Richards…

Ty and Emily are passionate followers of Jesus, though Emily had only recently experienced the reality of Jesus in her life. Ty and Emily met, and were instantly drawn to one another. One thing led to another and they ended up falling into sin by sleeping together. They became deeply convicted of this poor decision, repented to one-another, and people they trusted. They began walking in purity. Ty began thinking about marriage, decided to start looking for a ring, and propose to Emily very soon. After some time had passed they discovered some surprising news that Emily had become pregnant during their previous stumble into sin. They were shocked, but new they only had one choice in this matter, to continue to walk in repentance. They were very open with everyone about the situation, and were confident in the grace of Jesus they had been living in since they first repented. At every turn they gave glory to Jesus, confessed their sin openly to EVERYONE, and walked in repentance in every relationship they had. Both families were informed quickly, along with many friends and loved ones. Some judged them (mostly Christians), but many were blown away by this real life testimony of the Gospel. They got married shortly afterward (Because they were in love, not because they were pregnant). They have continued to walk in repentance to this day, and Jesus has blessed their pursuit of Him, and acceptance of His grace. The enemy used their sin to make life very difficult by them getting pregnant when they were not ready, and not married. Before repentance this baby was a “consequence” of sin. As a result of God’s grace, and their repentance this baby has now been redeemed for God’s glory! The true message of the Gospel and God’s grace has shined through in a difficult situation-the truth that He takes what we have done in our sin and makes it beautiful as a result of our repentance. What the enemy had stolen for his purposes were brought back into alignment with God’s kingdom through the repentance of His children. Beautiful.

Ty and Emily could have been secretive about this situation, and tried to hide it. They could have made excuses, and questioned why this happened when they already repented (initially), and were walking in purity. This choice would hinder Jesus from taking what was broken in their sin, and redeeming it for His good. They chose differently by asking for forgiveness, and repenting of that sin through word and behavior. This opened up the flood-gates for the truth of the Gospel to begin reconstructing those broken pieces of glass in the hearts Ty and Emily.

We have all heard Romans 8:28. “For God works all things together for the good of those who love Him, who are called according to His purpose.” We have all recited this verse to ourselves, or quoted it to a friend or loved one when something “bad” happened. However, could there be more to this passage when we read it through the lens of a lifestyle of repentance? Perhaps this scripture is speaking to what happens when we enter into a repentant relationship with Jesus, and invite Him to begin taking back what the enemy has stolen in order to further His kingdom. Maybe Paul was saying that in our sin, and brokenness God can take a willing/repentant heart and make it right again. It is as if the repentant posture of our heart allows the Spirit to come in and not only assist in preventing that particular sin from happening again, but to go back and redeem what was. The Spirit of God in Ty and Emily did not just desire for them to stop engaging in sexual immorality, but that through grace and love the sin that was used for darkness would now shed light on why Jesus did what He did!

Ty and Emily both gave permission for their story to shared on “A Holy Discontent” as well as in an article in the online e-magazine at http://www.shapevine.com

Simple Obedience.

God has been teaching us SO much over the past couple years. One of the main things has been what He truly desires of us as followers of Him…simple obedience. Our hope is that the realization of His “free” grace would fuel that obedience, and not performance/obedience in order to earn grace. In the midst of that we have discovered our tendency to do the “flashy” things that draw attention, & make the headlines in an attempt to “satisfy man’s expectations”…

I was VERY encouraged this morning when I read a blog that our friend Chelsea posted. We’ve known Chelsea, & her husband Dustin for two years now. About 5 months ago, along with the Hudgin’s, we decided to take our relationships to a new level. We embarked on a journey to “be the church” together in a very raw, deep, and relational way. We started a new church together. It was simple obedience. It wasn’t flashy, forced, or energy draining. It was life giving. It’s what we know God desired of us. The key however, was that we had to remove the clutter we had put on our “plates” attempting to “please God”, “be a good Christian”, or seek to satisfy man’s expectations, and press into that simple obedience. I’ll stop now, and let you read Chelsea’s beautiful words describing all of our family’s journey together…

CLICK HERE TO READ CHELSEA’S BLOG.

(The first bit is about our dinner outing this past weekend as we celebrated our adventure together over the past 6 months, and enjoyed one another one last time before the move(s).

Whew, We’re Not The Only Ones…

As I was reading in Mark 9 I was comforted to know that we are not the only ones who constantly spit on the cross by refusing to fully accept the sacrifice that Christ made on it for us. We are not the only ones who seek to “supplement the cross” in our pursuits to please God & earn His favor with our good deeds/works. Three of His “best students” seemed to be bent towards that same brokenness as well…

At the beginning of chapter 9 Jesus brings Peter, James, and John up on the mountain with Him. Then, something supernatural happens. Jesus’ clothes become dazzling white, and Elijah & Moses appear before them talking to Jesus. Check out our brilliant friend Peter’s response…

5Peter said to Jesus, “Rabbi, it is good for us to be here. Let us put up three shelters—one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.” 6(He did not know what to say, they were so frightened.)

7Then a cloud appeared and enveloped them, and a voice came from the cloud: “This is my Son, whom I love. Listen to him!”

Peter has a supernatural encounter with God, and look what his FIRST response is…He immediately wants to DO something for Jesus. It’s almost like he wants to impress Jesus with his good idea. (Although confining Jesus, Elijah, and Moses to a shelter does not seem like too great of an idea to me) God the Father has to yell at Peter from the clouds to get him to shut up and listen; by then it’s too late…

8Suddenly, when they looked around, they no longer saw anyone with them except Jesus.

I wonder what would have happened had Peter kept his mouth shut, watched, and listened? Instead, he immediately feels the need to work, to do, to perform, & earn the favor of Jesus. Jesus wanted them to experience, and witness that wonderful happening. I wonder if Peter missed out on something powerful that he needed to hear. (If he did I’m sure Jesus filled him in later – Peter did, after all, end up doing some pretty neat stuff in the kingdom=)

I also realize that this is before the cross, so the disciples have a reason NOT to understand/accept it at this point; it hasn’t happened yet! So, we can cut them some slack here. We, however, can’t use that same excuse…

How often do we bypass the, “This is my son, whom I love. Listen to Him!” part because we are too busy trying to impress Jesus with our grand ideas of kingdom growth strategery, and performance based lifestyle? Do we often miss out on something God may be trying to teach or show us because we’re busy trying to show HIM how good we can be for Him?

“Christ, thank you that you have grace, and patience for us even when we fail to grasp even the most basic principles of your life.”


“Supplementing The Cross”

Sup⋅ple⋅ment – noun: Something added to complete a thing, supply a deficiency, or reinforce or extend a whole. – Verb (used with object) – To complete, add to, or extend by a supplement. To form a supplement or addition to. To supply (a deficiency).

It has becoming increasingly evident to me how little stock we truly put in what Christ did on the cross for us. We may say with our words, “the cross was enough; what Jesus did was enough”. However, our actions are a daily picture of broken humanity that insists on supplementing the cross. It is as if we say,

“Jesus, thank you for this act of sacrifice on the cross you have suffered through to completely cover my sins, and make me clean…wait, did I say completely? What I meant was thank for offering yourself as PART of the sacrifice. I appreciate that, and will now do my part to make up for where your sacrifice on the cross was not enough.”

At that moment we take out our hammer, tiny finishing nails, and pieces of paper. We begin writing little deeds, and good works on those pieces of paper. We frantically tap the little nails through the paper, and into the wood of the cross directly above, below, and next to the broken, & bloody parts of our Savior’s body. With each good deed we add to the cross our pursuits of making up for where Christ’s sacrifice was lacking. With each one we spit on our King’s body. In essence, we are doing nothing less than driving those little finishing nails straight into His flesh. I wonder if those little nails hurt worse than the huge spikes that attached Him to the cross…?

We have this fundamental misunderstanding of the cross, and Christ’s purpose in dying on it for us. We are SO quick, in our broken human-ness to try and perform to earn God’s approval. We are taking the very thing that sets us apart as followers of Christ and trading it in for a life of vain pursuits. We continue to fall victim to a trap that tricks us into thinking Christ desires our works, and good deeds to gain His approval. We attempt to “pay God back” for what He did, and earn our salvation by our dead works. Father, forgive us.

We mustn’t perform to earn God’s approval. We obey Him because we already have His approval. We gained that approval through believing that what He did on the cross was ENOUGH; it needs no supplement.

Will you join me in repenting for attempting to supplement the cross…?

What’s The REASON?

A few days ago I posted lyrics to a Derek Webb song titled, “A New Law”. I hope you read them, and let them sink in. If not, I encourage you to click the above link, skip the stuff I wrote, and READ the lyrics. Or, just go listen to it. At the end I gave some examples about how as Christians we tend to slap new rules and regulations on things for the sake of ease, but miss the root issue in the process. We do things in an attempt to protect, or shield others from potential evils while sometimes killing the good in those things. (I have friends who got married several years ago, but had trouble with their sex life. They’d been taught their entire lives about the evils of sex, but never about the beauties when done “properly”) Here are two other examples I used in the last post:

“It is easier for me to tell my kids not to say curse words (give them a new law), than it is for me to teach them over time how to have love in their hearts instead of anger. It is easier for me to tell every young person I meet not to drink, and that it’s a sin (To “protect” them from it’s potential evils) than it is for me to teach them the truth about moderation & drunkenness. You get the point…”

What are some other things you can think of that we do as believers that miss the point? What are some ways we create “new laws” when it’s unnecessary? How has this negatively affected how the lost world around us views Christians, and The Church?