Friday, November 12, 2010
This picture was chosen bascially at random. I searched for old newspaper pictures on Yahoo, and this is one I found. It works well though, I think, for two reasons. First, I shared in my last post about a story that I felt had lasting impact. Here it is again:
"A man stood up in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada four years after the sinking of the Titanic in a testimony meeting and this is what he said. He said, 'I am a survivor of the Titanic. When I was drifting alone on a spar that awful night, the tide brought a man toward me in the sea and his name was John Harper. He was hanging to a piece of wreckage. And as he neared me, he said, Man, are you saved? No, I'm not, I replied. He said, Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved! And the waves took him away. But strange to say, they brought him back a little later and he said, Are you saved yet? And I said, No. And he said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved! And I watched him go down. And there, alone in the night, with two miles of water under me, I believed and I was saved. And I was John Harper's last convert."
Are you saved? Second, the message of salvation in Jesus is daily good news. The reason I included a picture of a newspaper is that I want to inquire as to what is the news you are daily exposing yourself to. There is a lot to choose from. If you're George Constanza, the New York Daily News is the reason you get up in the morning. You may be a local news guy, and have plenty to say about the need to build a new school in your district. You may be a national news guy, and always know the political situation currently facing the country and know exactly what the President did that day. You might be an Internet news guy, and have some favorites you scan each morning to give you the basics. You might use Twitter (I do!) to summarize what's going on in the world in 140 characters. You might read magazines (I do!) but are likely months behind the breaking news stories (I am!).
But through it all, I want to urge you to discipline yourself every day to take in the Good News of salvation in Jesus Christ. Do it. Even if you originally responded to this news some time ago. You need it now more than ever. Same thing tomorrow. And the next day. Here are some resources to help you start:
Growth by Remembering
"Christian growth, in other words, does not happen first by behaving better, but believing better–believing in bigger, deeper, brighter ways what Christ has already secured for sinners."
The Gospel Everyday
"Since Jesus secured my pardon and absorbed the Father’s wrath on my behalf so that 'there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus,' how does that impact my longing for approval, my tendency to be controlling, and my fear of the unknown?"
The Ongoing Need for the Gospel
"Richard Lovelace says that most people’s problems are just a failure to be oriented to the gospel–a failure to grasp and believe it through and through. Luther says, 'The truth of the Gospel is the principle article of all Christian doctrine….Most necessary is it that we know this article well, teach it to others, and beat it into their heads continually.' Paul says that the gospel only does its renewing work in us as we understand it in all its truth. All of us, to some degree live around the truth of the gospel but do not 'get' it. So the key to continual and deeper spiritual renewal and revival is the continual re-discovery of the gospel. A stage of renewal is always the discovery of a new implication or application of the gospel–seeing more of its truth. This is true for either an individual or a church."
The Gospel is for Christians
"One of the most important discoveries of my life has been that the Gospel is not just for non-Christians; it’s for Christians too. I used to think the Gospel was simply what non-Christians must believe in to be saved, while afterward we advance to deeper theological waters. But what I’ve come to understand is that once God saves us he doesn’t then move us beyond the Gospel. Rather he moves us deeper into the Gospel. The Gospel, in other words, is every bit as important for growing as a Christian as it is for becoming a Christian in the first place. The Gospel is the fuel that makes Christians go."
GOSPEL LIKE OXYGEN
Let me take it further. I need the Gospel of grace in Jesus Christ like I need oxygen. That means multiple times a day. It means constantly. Do you feel the same? Oh, that you would! I breathe out of my mouth, mostly, so oxygen is a coveted commodity. It doesn't come to me as easily as it comes to others. Haha. But seriously. It takes some effort. And so it is the same for me with the Gospel. I have to remind myself of it. After I react poorly when interrupted at work (God forgives). Or in the middle of a trial that seems to have no light at the end (God never forsakes). Or on a mundane day that feels like nothing special (God ordained that day for you). Or in the middle of a situation where you feel like the world is against you (God will judge, and there is no condemnation for those in Christ). Jesus died and rose again to make all this real for us.
See He remembers the first day that He made you
Molded your lungs for the breath that He gave you
Not to mention the day He saved you
Or when He opened your eyes by the spirit Christ was raised through
Did I mention that He forgave you?
And had his flesh ripped off for the sin you were enslaved to
Now it seems you're too far gone
You want to turn back, but you're unsure if you'll be welcome home
So you figure you'll just leave it alone
But you're addicted to yourself, we both know you can't see it alone
This is an intervention, Jesus intervened
He intercedes on behalf of a sinner's deeds
This is an intervention because the Lord hurts
Before it gets worse, start making a reverse....
But I love you even when your light's off in your dark shame
When you lay down and profane me
Or when your bloodstream contains the things that would defame me
When nobody knows that you claim me
Or when you mess your life up, get mad, and wanna blame me
I still want you back
I won't punish you
I took that on the cross, because I wanted you
I might discipline and chastise
But if you got what you deserve you'd be in hell with other bad guys
-Lecrae, New Reality
There are a lot of things that people think they need like oxygen. In fact, everyone has something, or some group of somethings, that they seek as if those things were as important to them as oxygen. Spiritually, these things would be referred to as idols. Our hearts are idol factories, Calvin said. Some examples, as highlighted by Tim Keller, are: money, romance, children, family, truth, gifts, morality, reason, science, technology. Any of these strike a chord? By saying there are "idols" in our life is not necessarily saying that such things are bad things. If they become ultimate things, then they become destructive. You can tell how ultimate you have made something from your reaction when it is taken from you. If you lose oxygen you will die. Likewise, if you lose the Gospel, you will die. That is what I want to prevent! Everything else, while maybe good, is not ultimate. Physically you need oxygen every moment. Spiritually you need the Gospel every moment. God, by his grace, intends for you to have both. Don't close your mouth! Don't stop breathing! Don't close your Bible! Don't ignore the daily news of grace!