Saturday, February 27, 2010

lenten 40: day 10 - less is more

image 10.

30He must become greater; I must become less.
~John 3:30


John had come to grips with this concept. He understood that his role in the vast scope of God's purpose was limited by the overruling wisdom of the Creator as He carried out His purpose. This is a reason why salvation is spoken of as "free"—because God is not bound to show mercy to anybody since all have sinned and come short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). All too often, we forget that the invisible God is working things out according to His purpose, not ours. God is free to do as He pleases. He owes no one anything.

I Corinthians 4:6-7 adds:

Now these things, brethren, I have figuratively transferred to myself and Apollos for your sakes, that you may learn in us not to think beyond what is written, that none of you may be puffed up on behalf of one against the other. For who makes you differ from another? And what do you have that you did not receive? Now if you did indeed receive it, why do you boast as if you had not received it?

Do we have grounds for being puffed up or jealous? John the Baptist did not think so, and what he declared is truth. I Corinthians 12 makes clear that God places people in the church as it pleases Him, and He gives gifts to them so they can be responsible for a function. The gifts do not make them "better," just prepared by the Creator to serve in a specialized way.

~John W. Ritenbaugh

Read more:

how might i need to decrease? am i carrying myself higher than I ought? am i serving God in humble ways? these are questions that leaders of the Way need to constantly ask themselves. it's important to note that the context of John 3:30 is found in the midst of John the Baptist sharing his testimony of what he has seen and heard from His Lord, Jesus Christ. It had to be humbling and in some ways difficult for John to give up some elements of power and control - but the Christ - the one for which he had been telling others about, had finally arrived on the scene. It was time for John to take a backseat, a sign of humbleness, so that Jesus' message would not be hampered.

31"The one who comes from above is above all; the one who is from the earth belongs to the earth, and speaks as one from the earth. The one who comes from heaven is above all. 32He testifies to what he has seen and heard, but no one accepts his testimony. 33The man who has accepted it has certified that God is truthful. 34For the one whom God has sent speaks the words of God, for God gives the Spirit without limit. 35The Father loves the Son and has placed everything in his hands. 36Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God's wrath remains on him."
~John 3:31-36
His testimony and witness of the greatness of God was the message that he needed to tell. The attention was then rightfully shifted to Jesus.

In what ways do we need to divert attention off of ourselves and onto the greatness of our Savior, Jesus? In what ways do we need to decrease so that Christ may increase?

Friday, February 26, 2010

lenten 40: day 9 - rescue is coming

image 9.

There's a darkness in my skin
My cover's wearing thin, I believe
I'd love to start again, go back to innocent
And never leave

Don't give up now
A break in the clouds
We could be found

There's nothing wrong with me
It's just that I believe things could get better
And there's nothing wrong with love
I think it's just enough to believe

Don't give up now
A break in the clouds
We could be found

Rescue is coming

And there's nothing wrong with you
And nothing left to do
But believe something bigger
And there's nothing wrong with love
I know it's just enough to believe

Don't give up now
A break in the clouds
We will be found

Rescue is coming

I have strayed like a lost sheep.
Seek your servant,
for I have not forgotten your commands.
~Psalm 119:176

"My people have been lost sheep; their shepherds have led
them astray and caused them to roam on the mountains. They wandered
over mountain and hill and forgot their own resting place.
~Jeremiah 50:6

The Parable of the Lost Sheep
1Now the tax collectors and "sinners" were all gathering around to hear him. 2But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, "This man welcomes sinners and eats with them."

3Then Jesus told them this parable: 4"Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Does he not leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? 5And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders 6and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, 'Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.' 7I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.

~Luke 15:1-7


we were not meant to be alone.

when i was a kid, my older sister was involved with a scout-type group called Pioneer Girls. they would meet weekly for character building activities and faith study and could earn merit badges, too. one evening, the leaders took the troop of girls to a local state park for a nature walk. before long, they realized that they had walked to0 far - and night began to fall.

there they were, in the middle of the woods, with absolute darkness quickly approaching. they turned around and walked as quickly as they could back to the entrance to the woods - but soon it was too late and too dark to move. the safest thing to do was to stay put.

stranded in the darkness in an era before cellular phones, GPS and the like, there was nothing much they could do but remain in one location and wait for help to come. how long would it be before someone realized they were missing? in such a large, wooded state park, how quickly would park rangers find them?

when the missing group did not return back to the church on schedule, parents and church leaders met and prayed for their safety.

in the woods, the Pioneer adult leaders gathered the group of adolescent girls in a circle. sitting on downed branches and tree stumps they began to sing spiritual songs and choruses and remarkably, everyone stayed calm.

After hours spent in the absolute darkness of night in the woods, their singing and praying never ceased. It was because of their 'crying out' that they were eventually found by park rangers.

all returned home safely in the wee early hours of the morning. parents and towns people rejoiced at their safe arrival. the leaders of that group trusted and believed that 'rescue was coming.' and rescued, they were. they never lost hope.

we were not meant to be alone in darkness. the Good Shepherd loves his flock and will never leave any one behind. No matter where we may wander - whether purposeful or accidental, the Shepherd desperately wants us to be home and safe. but when one loses hope, what else is there? we have to believe. we have to trust. no matter what we've done or where we've been - rescue is coming.

there is hope. believe it. cry out and be found.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

lenten 40: day 8 - immaculate heart

image 8.

O sacred head, surrounded
By crown of piercing thorn
O bleeding head, so wounded
Reviled and put to scorn

Our sins have marred the glory
Of thy most holy face
Yet angel hosts adore thee
And tremble as they gaze

The Lord of every nation
Was hung upon a tree
His death was our salvation
Our sins, his agony

O Jesus, by thy passion
Thy life in us increase
Thy death for us did fashion
Our pardon and our peace

love is manifest in Christ Jesus. We love because he first loved us. His words are love. His actions were love. How can we not be compelled to reciprocate such love? are you compelled to love God and love people? 'tis the greatest of all commandments.

but it's hard to love, you say. yes it is. especially those we deem 'unlovable.' but no one is unworthy of love. we have been showered by His grace - thus not getting what we deserve (i.e. death because of sin). We receive grace. the gift of God. life! love!

love wins. it brings hope. warmth. passion. inspiration. truth. action. true love never fails.

if we allow our hearts to be split open, so that all that consumes us - chaos, stress, pressure, failure, etc. - can be spilled out, our then empty hearts can be fully filled with the power and love of Jesus - through the Holy Spirit.

it is because of love that Jesus placed himself on the alter - as a living sacrifice for our transgressions. it is because of love that he endured the pain and agony of death. it is because of love that he didn't stay dead in the grave. no. he rose again. and during this time of lent, may we pause daily to reflect and remember that great sacrifice. may we not forget that he didn't stay dead - but conquered death. because love wins!

now go - and share the story of love with others. believe it. live it.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

lenten 40: day 7 - silence (is easy?)

image 7.

This silence is necessary because all chatter about one's own concerns nourishes self-preoccupation and self-trust, and these must be stifled! Through stillness one's trust grows in Him who sees what is hidden; through silence one talks with Him who hears without words. To come to Him is your endeavor, and in Him shall be all your confidence: you are anchored in eternity, and in eternity there are no words.

Hereafter you will consider that everything that happens to you, both great and small, is sent by God to help you in your warfare. He alone knows what is necessary for you and what you need at the moment: adversity and prosperity, temptation and fall. Nothing happens accidentally or in such a way that you cannot learn from it; you must understand this at once, for this is how your trust grows in the Lord whom you have chosen to follow.
~Tito Colliander

16But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.
~Luke 5:16

11 The LORD said, "Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the LORD, for the LORD is about to pass by."
Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. 12 After the earthquake came a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper.
~! Kings 19:11-12

why is it easy to be silent when we're supposed to be bold - and yet hard to stay quiet when we need to shut up? there are obvious examples of one's need to retreat and be silent before God...

too much noise, busy schedules, chaotic distractions... thus is the life of a 21st century person living in the western world. with all of that, how could we possibly hear His message?

Don't you want to be free from all of that? turn your cell phone off. turn the tv off. put the book down. sign off the computer.

spend some time in silence. it's hard to do, but in the end - you just might realize how much you needed it. God sometimes speaks to us in the gentle things... whispering trees, blowing in the wind; crickets chirping under a canopy of stars; birds singing in light of the sun-drenched morning; the repetitive patterns of your lungs, breathing air in and out. when you are silent, you will hear things you mostly miss. perhaps you might even encounter God - speaking to your heart - without words.

free yourself from the chaos. be silent. pray. seek God.

be still.
~Psalm 46:10

what steps do you need to take in order to be silent?
after spending time in silence, write about it.. journal your experience. blog it. how did you connect with God? how did He speak to you? what message did He give you?

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

lenten 40: day 6 - drowning in the desert

image 6.

scripture + meditation.
1 Save me, O God,
for the waters have come up to my neck.

2 I sink in the miry depths,
where there is no foothold.
I have come into the deep waters;
the floods engulf me.

3 I am worn out calling for help;
my throat is parched.
My eyes fail,
looking for my God.

4 Those who hate me without reason
outnumber the hairs of my head;
many are my enemies without cause,
those who seek to destroy me.
I am forced to restore
what I did not steal.

5 You know my folly, O God;
my guilt is not hidden from you.

6 May those who hope in you
not be disgraced because of me,
O Lord, the LORD Almighty;
may those who seek you
not be put to shame because of me,
O God of Israel.

7 For I endure scorn for your sake,
and shame covers my face.

8 I am a stranger to my brothers,
an alien to my own mother's sons;

9 for zeal for your house consumes me,
and the insults of those who insult you fall on me.

10 When I weep and fast,
I must endure scorn;

11 when I put on sackcloth,
people make sport of me.

12 Those who sit at the gate mock me,
and I am the song of the drunkards.

13 But I pray to you, O LORD,
in the time of your favor;
in your great love, O God,
answer me with your sure salvation.

14 Rescue me from the mire,
do not let me sink;
deliver me from those who hate me,
from the deep waters.

15 Do not let the floodwaters engulf me
or the depths swallow me up
or the pit close its mouth over me.

16 Answer me, O LORD, out of the goodness of your love;
in your great mercy turn to me.

17 Do not hide your face from your servant;
answer me quickly, for I am in trouble.

18 Come near and rescue me;
redeem me because of my foes.

19 You know how I am scorned, disgraced and shamed;
all my enemies are before you.

20 Scorn has broken my heart
and has left me helpless;
I looked for sympathy, but there was none,
for comforters, but I found none.

21 They put gall in my food
and gave me vinegar for my thirst.

22 May the table set before them become a snare;
may it become retribution and a trap.

23 May their eyes be darkened so they cannot see,
and their backs be bent forever.

24 Pour out your wrath on them;
let your fierce anger overtake them.

25 May their place be deserted;
let there be no one to dwell in their tents.

26 For they persecute those you wound
and talk about the pain of those you hurt.

27 Charge them with crime upon crime;
do not let them share in your salvation.

28 May they be blotted out of the book of life
and not be listed with the righteous.

29 I am in pain and distress;
may your salvation, O God, protect me.

30 I will praise God's name in song
and glorify him with thanksgiving.

31 This will please the LORD more than an ox,
more than a bull with its horns and hoofs.

32 The poor will see and be glad—
you who seek God, may your hearts live!

33 The LORD hears the needy
and does not despise his captive people.

34 Let heaven and earth praise him,
the seas and all that move in them,

35 for God will save Zion
and rebuild the cities of Judah.
Then people will settle there and possess it;

36 the children of his servants will inherit it,
and those who love his name will dwell there.

~Psalm 69

why are there 40 days of lent, you may wonder? Of course, the number "40" has always had special spiritual significance regarding preparation. On Mount Sinai, preparing to receive the Ten Commandments, "Moses stayed there with the Lord for 40 days and 40 nights, without eating any food or drinking any water" (Ex. 34:28). Elijah walked "40 days and 40 nights" to the mountain of the Lord, Mount Horeb (another name for Sinai) (I Kings 19:8). Most importantly, Jesus fasted and prayed for "40 days and 40 nights" in the desert before He began His public ministry (Matt. 4:2).(excerpt taken from History of Lent)

40 days. in the desert. hot during the days. cold nights. wandering. searching. no food. no water. bored. tired. tempted. feeling abandoned. i wonder if during that time Jesus thought or reflected on the scriptures of old, specifically Psalm 69.

especially when the tempter came upon him. tempted with food and drink... tempted with power. tested. he was probably drained. every bit human, he was. he had to be exhausted. when you're tired and hungry, we know it's hard to think straight. he had to be at a very low point. how could he not be? and yet - he finds the strength to endure the temptations.

i can't help but think that at some point Psalm 69 crossed his mind. i wonder, if as Jesus was going through this struggle, that he thought of the struggles of mankind - how many human beings past, present and future connect with the 'save me, o God' passage of Psalm 69?

There he is. Jesus Christ. the beautiful thing is that he knows what it's like to experience loss, pain, suffrage, temptation, hunger and need. We are never alone with our anguish.

know and understand that no matter what trial, temptation or struggle that you may go through - it is not something that is uncommon to Christ.

what solace does that bring you?

are you experiencing a time in the desert? are you feeling as though you are drowning with land in sight? going under? need saving? Cry out. the Christ knows your pain... hears your cry... is there to save you.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Book Review: The Teaching of the Twelve

The Teaching of Twelve: Believing & Practicing the Primitive Christianity of the Ancient Didache Community The Teaching of Twelve: Believing & Practicing the Primitive Christianity of the Ancient Didache Community by Tony Jones

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
this sounded interesting... a book based on the ancient lost text of the Didache - written between the synoptic gospels and the Pauline epistles.

at times Tony Jones' writing is very heady but i have to admit, Jones gives an interesting history lesson on an ancient writing that may have served as a text for training and building early church disciples.

despite its headiness - it was not a difficult read.

i like the simplistic look at what a follower of Christ is and should be.

The complete Didache text is included - with Jones' commentary and explanation. it is a manual for living faith.

"hate no one. correct some. pray for others, and some you should love more than your own life."

View all my reviews >>

lenten 40: day 5 - prayer as communication

image 5.

The right relationship with God that is necessary for healthy communication between God and man is evidenced in three ways. The first is a turning from sin, or repentance. Psalm 27:9, for example, is the plea of David for God to hear him and not turn away from him in anger. From this, we know that God does turn His face away from man's sin and that sin hinders the communication between God and man. Another example of this is found in Isaiah 59:2, where Isaiah tells the people, “But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear.” So, when there is un-confessed sin in our lives, it will hinder communication with God.

Also necessary for communication is a humble heart. God speaks these words in Isaiah 66:2, “This is the one I esteem: he who is humble and contrite in spirit, and trembles at my word.” The third thing is a righteous life. This is the positive side of turning from sin and is marked specifically by effectiveness in prayer. James 5:16 says, “The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.”

Our speech to God may be vocal, in our minds, or written. We can be confident that He will hear us and that the Holy Spirit will help us to pray what we ought to pray. Romans 8:26 says, “In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express.”
from How is Prayer Communicating with God?

23After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone,
~Matthew 14:23

12One of those days Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God.
~Luke 6:12

9About noon the following day as they were on their journey and approaching the city, Peter went up on the roof to pray.
~Acts 10:9

final thought.
hectic lifestyles. busy schedules. over active calendars. there not enough time in a day to do what we do, is there? i can't think that this is God's plan for our lives.
prayer is our way to build our relationship with God. it is our method of communication. if you were rekindling a friendship with an old friend, it would make sense to spend time developing that relationship. How can we grow with God if we don't spend time developing that relationship?

Part of one's desire during lent should be to deepen one's prayer life - so as to connect at a deeper level with the love and sacrifice of Jesus. this is a key component to the preparation and commemoration of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

take time to get away - so that you can radio heaven. spend time developing a relationship that is the key to life.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

lenten 40: day 4 - there is a light that never goes out

image 4.

So often I stand on the edge of the light, afraid to believe, afraid to act, afraid that this story (the story of Christ) is too good to be true. But then in my better moments, when I listen closely to the story, move closer to the light, my fears seem to evaporate like an early morning mist, and I can believe again. I can believe that God who made all that is became clothed in our human flesh so that we might become clothed in God. I can believe that God claims me as a beloved child. I can believe that all my days are in God's strong and tender hands. I can believe that life is good, beautiful, and eternal. I can believe that not only my days but all days are in God's good and able hands. I can believe, rejoice, and wait trustingly and expectantly for the unfolding of God's promise given so many ways
~Rueben P. Job


5The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understooda]">[a] it.
~John 1:5

4 Even in darkness light dawns for the upright,
for the gracious and compassionate and righteous man.
~Psalm 112:4

105 Your word is a lamp to my feet
and a light for my path.
~Psalm 119:105

final thought.
darkness can never extinguish light - but light will ALWAYS extinguish darkness.

remain in the light.

there is a light that never goes out.
~The Smiths

Friday, February 19, 2010

lenten 40: day 3 - awake

image 3.

11And do this, understanding the present time. The hour has come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed.
~Romans 13:11

words of wisdom.
Arise, then; but do so at once, without delay. Do not defer your purpose till "tonight" or "tomorrow" or "later, when I have finished what I have to do just now." The interval may be fatal.

No, this moment, the instant you make your resolution, you will show by your action that you have taken leave of your old self and have now begun a new life, with a new destination and a new way of living. Arise, therefore, without fear and say: Lord, let me begin now. Help me! For what you need above all is God's help. . Hold fast to your purpose and do not look back.
~ Tito Colliander (Way of the Ascetics) as posted on 1053 Lenten Study: ON A RESOLUTE AND SUSTAINED PURPOSE.

13Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy. 14Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature.
~Romans 13:13-14 (NIV)

Get out of bed and get dressed! Don't loiter and linger, waiting until the very last minute. Dress yourselves in Christ, and be up and about!
~Romans 13:14 (The Message)

there are those days where it's really hard to get out of bed in the morning. hard night's sleep. pressures of the day. lethargy. laziness. boredom. sickness. stress. yet what good can get accomplished if we do not rise up? yes, certainly there is a time and a place for rest. Jesus often retreated to pray and rest on his own. but the time came for him to return and to face the day. and face the day he did: clothed in righteousness.

there is a difference, though, between resting in the presence of God and sleeping in. lying in bed, out-sleeping the shining sun, usually leads to more tiredness. movement gets the juices flowing. lying around, wallowing in the sinful nature leads to pressures, laziness, boredom and sickness. but movement gets the juices flowing.

Paul, in Romans 13, compels us to action. Rise up! the morning bell has rung. put on the garment of Christ Jesus and leave behind the instant gratification of sin. after all, that 'sugar-high' will always lead to a crash... and burn.

lent is a time of leaving behind. self-denial is the tool.

wake up! quit hitting the snooze bar.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

lenten 40: day 2 - be. do.

image 2.

Faith comes not through pondering but through action. Not words and speculation but experience teaches us what God is. To let in fresh air we have to open a window; to get tanned we must go out into the sunshine. Achieving faith is no different; we never reach a goal by just sitting in comfort and waiting, say the holy Fathers. Let the Prodigal Son be our example. He arose and came (Luke 15:20).
~ Tito Colliander (Way of the Ascetics) as posted on 1053 Lenten Study: ON A RESOLUTE AND SUSTAINED PURPOSE.

What is ascetic?

ascetic |əˈsetik|

characterized by or suggesting the practice of severe self-discipline and abstention from all forms of indulgence, typically for religious reasons : an ascetic life of prayer, fasting, and manual labor | a narrow, humorless, ascetic face.

a person who practices such self-discipline and abstention.

self-discipline does not happen by talking about it. it comes by practicing it. one does not become a better golfer or tennis player or cook or mother by merely 'talking' about how to be better. one improves by 'doing'.

it takes action.

be. do.

words of wisdom.

Kerygma and Diakonia.

This brings me to the last emphasis in our pause: the Church as mission to proclaim this Word in and to the world, which, as was said above, is included in what we mean by the declaration of the Lordship of Christ. It would appear that the Church goes about being this mission in the world in two ways: first, by articulating through verbal signs the gospel message (kerygma) and, secondly, by performing acts of concerned, involved service (diakonia). Yet these two aspects of the outreach of the Church, the word and the act, cannot finally be distinguished. There is abundant New Testament evidence of their utter interpretation. Together and never separately, they constitute the proclamation of the Church in and to the world.

~Bishop James K. Mathews (from Jesus is Lord)

Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. 23Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror 24and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. 25But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it—he will be blessed in what he does.
~ James 1:22-25 (NIV)

You can no more show me your works apart from your faith than I can show you my faith apart from my works. Faith and works, works and faith, fit together hand in glove.
~ James 2:14-26 (The Message)

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

lenten 40: day 1 - start @ the beginning

image 1.

for lent this year - i am aiming to give up some of my 'wasting time' activities and instead to use that time to focus on connecting with God through creativity - leading up to the days of remembrance of Holy week and celebration of Easter.

my goal is to create a new image for each of the 40 days of lent.

i will be seeking inspiration for each image from the following Lenten studies:
1053 lenten study on facebook
40 days of yes lent study pdf / 40 days of yes webpage

i am hoping that i will stick to it and not drop the ball... it is also my goal to utilize my creative ability, too... hoping i don't feel tapped out at any one point.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

A Sweet Story

Years ago, my future-wife-to-be and I would be walking through the food court of the mall, where we would often find ourselves drawn to the smell of the freshly baked cinnamon rolls at Cinnabon®. Soon, we would mysteriously find ourselves waiting in line to purchase a $6 dollar cinnamon roll that was bigger than 'a bean bag chair'*. We'd soon be found kindling our new romance, sharing the delights of the Cinnabon® Classic.

mmmmm... instant gratification.
Cinnabon®. How sweet is that? (literally)

after consuming said sticky bun, we'd no doubt feel instant shame - in need of a moist towelette to clean off the stickiness on our hands and face.

the funny thing is, most people waiting in line for a Cinnabon probably pray that there is no line. they don't want to be seen purchasing 12 thousand calories of sticky mess. Jim Gaffigan* talks about this. [view clip here] Perhaps they could have some sort of dark curtain to hide those who seek such an indulgence.

the point is, Cinnabon's are sticky... and it's certainly hard to get rid of it's aura. hands and mouth are all syrupy. the smell gets onto your skin and clothes. and then there's your newly expanded waste line. It covers you.

Kind of like sin. Some often refer to desserts and comfort foods as 'sinfully delicious'. i could go down the cheesy route and rechristen Cinnabon as 'Sin-abon' but i fear that might show up on some church sign. i can see it now: 'Nothing is more sticky than a Sin-abon' [see my church sign creation here].

You get my point, though.

Sin is sticky... messy... hard to clean off... at least by our own measures it is. We can't hide our sin. We try... really hard - but sooner or later our sins find us [Numbers 32:23], bind us and blind us. Mankind has been hiding in shame of their sins since the beginning. Adam and Eve hid after they disobeyed. Remember?

We seemed to have learned this at an early age. How many of us had secret hiding spots - under a bed; in the basement; in a closet or whatever - that we would hide in when we knew we were in trouble with mom or dad? We hide. That's what we do. We try our best to hide the stickyness... the shame... but no matter, the residue of sin is still upon us.

Remember Fun Dip? As a kid we'd all devour those packets of colored, flavored sugar. The dipping stick would be long gone before the good stuff ran out... so it'd wind up all over us - on our fingers, faces... all over. The residue of Fun Dip covered us.

But that was not what we were designed to be. Covered with sticky shame? Not God's plan.

Ephesians 1 states 'the plan'... that we might be one with the Father through Jesus Christ.
4For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight.

Chosen and designed to be blameless.
So we have been chosen - but it is ultimately our choice to accept this chosen-ness - and to then reciprocate the message of the Cross. What is the message of the Cross? Read on.

6to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. 7In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God's grace.

Through Christ - we receive grace... we don't get what we deserve. We deserve death. Sin = death. Work hard at sinning and your payment is death. [Romans 6:23] We get freedom from sin. (but we have to repent... a verb... to feel or express sincere regret or remorse about one's wrongdoing or sin).

What are things we redeem? Coupons. Gift cards. etc.

I got an iTunes gift card for christmas. $25 worth. I logged on to the website - entered the code on the back of the card and REDEEMED my reward. Bought and paid for by someone else - i reaped the benefit. it was a wonderful gift (that's why they call it a gift card, duh!)

Christ loves us - no matter what we do. As the late Rich Mullins once wrote "There is nothing you can do to make God love you more and there is nothing you can do to make Him love you less." Love is freely given to us.

Because of that unconditional love, when we repent, our sins are traded in; cashed in - to the detriment of Jesus - for our benefit. With His sacrificial gift we redeem the gift of life... new life. Full life. [John 10:10] That is the plan! No more stickiness. No more mess. No more sin-residue. Freedom. Cleanliness. Washed whiter than snow. [Psalm 51:7]

and now, instead of sticky, smelly, sin and death - your aura is soft and smooth love and life. and there's certainly no shame in that.

Redemption. How sweet is that?

parts of this post were preached at Breakfast Club - Feb 7, 2010 titled "Sticky". Breakfast Club is a youth worship service.

used with Nooma 10: Lump

sponsored by: Little Chocolate Donuts