I BELIEVE

April 24, 2015
from a Tim Keller sermon entitled Your Plans: God's Plans
Nobody has ever learned they were a sinner by being told. No one has ever leaned about their flaws by being told.  You have to be shown. Until you see your flaws (and the only way you'll see your flaws is in experiences)  they are going to control your life.  And secondly, no one ever learned that God loved them by being told.  I tell you every week that God loves you, but you don't believe it. You wouldn't live the way you do if you believed it.  You know what you really need in order to know?  You need to be shown.  Over and over you have to be shown.  You have to be in places where you absolutely think God has abandoned you and then find out later that you were wrong. That has to happen over and over again.  You can't bail.  You have to commit to him.  But as time goes on, you'll find that you are finally becoming wise.  You are understanding for the first time your flaws and therefore your plans are more careful than they would be otherwise.  And secondly, you're finding out that God loves you and therefore you are more bold than you would be otherwise.  

MY STORY

Huh?...Something's missing I think
I've been a believer in Jesus Christ since a very young age.  All these years since that day I was saved, I would say that I  pretty much lived a "good" life, but was feeling quite empty and believing deep down that I was missing something super important.  I'd look around me at other Christians and see them seemingly living the same powerless life that I was, and I just couldn't understand how this mediocre, lack-luster existence could be what we were all after.  To be honest, out of all the "born-again believers" that I knew, I wasn't able to find all that many that were living a life that I wanted to imitate.  That made me sad and frustrated and so confused.  What was is so great about knowing God and trusting in Him for salvation, if it didn't make a difference in the day-to-day.  Surely we were not saved just to one day be with Him in heaven, limping along in this life, until that time without power, without transformation.  No, that couldn't be it.

Ah...Starting to make sense
Early last year, I "accidentally" heard a sermon that finally helped me to see.  I was listening to a series of teachings from a conference when this particular message started to play.  I couldn't understand why it was placed there in the line-up, and have since realized it was just a technical mistake on the part of whoever was in charge of putting up content on that particular site.   Anyway, it was like salve to my blind heart.  I felt like I understood things in a way I never had.  Could it have been that I was never taught these things or was it rather, that I had never had my eyes opened to the truth before?  Whatever the answer, I was completely overwhelmed with gratitude for understanding the Gospel in a way I never had before.  Not long after that, I picked up Because He Loves Me by Elyse Fitzpatrick, a book sent to me by a woman I had met the year before.  It was completely "out of the blue"!  But now I see how it was part of a plan God had to open my heart and my eyes.  Let's just say, I devoured this book.  Things started to make sense to me.  God's love and grace became so important to me, not just for a salvation from an eternity without Christ, but for day-to-day living.  I knew that I needed God's grace to be saved out of my sin and be accepted as His child, but now I know that it is by His grace that I can and should live the minutes of my days.  I am being saved by grace, through faith.When I finally saw how God's love and acceptance and forgiveness could make a difference in how I view the specific details of my life, the result was a freedom and peace that I had never experienced before.

Rotten me...oh, I see now
I don't think one can ever truly understand the great mercies of God, if one never understands just how much in need of God's mercies he is.  And this is probably part of my years of blindness to the truth.  While I knew I was a sinner, I don't believe I was completely convinced of the dirtiness that covered my soul.  And that has been another part of the journey, one I've taken in very recent months.  I've seen the ugly depths of my sin, what I've done and what I'm capable of doing (whoa!).  Wow, that is a revelation that is hard to experience, but a completely essential one.  J.I. Packer says that every time a believer sins, he is suffering from an identity crisis, forgetting who he is in Christ and what he has in Christ.

Hallelujah!
The Gospel is the power of God that rescues me NOW! Knowing I've been and am being loved by God and that He's forgiven me and fully accepts me through the finished work of Jesus means... that I don't have to be perfect for anyone, I don't need to defend myself, I don't need to perform, I don't need to deceive, and I certainly have nothing to fear.  It's freedom from sin NOW.  It is power NOW. 

String around my finger
And what I also know, is that without daily reminding myself of who I am (a dirty rotten sinner, as we say in this house) and who God is (a holy, perfect GOD), I so quickly forget. But I really never, ever want to forget.

" My memory is nearly gone; but I remember two things:  
that I am a great sinner, and that Christ is a great Savior."  John Newton

 Please fill my sails
And so I've decided to write here the TRUTHS of Scripture and great GOSPEL wisdom that I've gleaned from books on the subject that I've read and am reading as a reminder to me.  And if any of this helps the people who come here, well, I'm glad about that.

This is my place to...PREACH THE GOSPEL TO MYSELF!  But I hope you will come here often to fill your sails, because I am desperate for others who find themselves in that same dreary place of powerless, meaningless, half-hearted Christianity to discover and remind themselves of the FULL gospel WITH me.

I want to keep wrestling with how God intends the reality of the gospel to shape and free me at every point and in every way, and I want to move more deeply into the gospel because it isn't just the power of God to SAVE me, it's also the power of God to GROW me.

The following are resources that have helped me along this marvelous way.  I plan to add to this list often.

Books: 
Because He Loves Me by Elyse Fitzpatrick *finished sometime in the summer of 2011
Jesus + Nothing = Everything by Tullian Tchividjian.  *finished on January 17, 2011. 

Teachings:
Fullness in Him Abe Meysenburg February 20, 2011
Identity and the Gospel Abe Meysenburg February 12, 1012
Jesus + Nothing = Everything by Pastor Tullian (no. 18)
How do you change? (the means by which we are changed from the inside out) by Tim Keller
The Way We Change as part 1 in the Gospel series by J.D. Greear 

Videos:
 




Quotes:

May 2013:: I love this quote from the Jesus Storybook Bible which stopped me in my tracks while reading it to the kids:
"... Who would make good helpers, do you think? Clever ones? Rich ones? Strong, important ones? Some people might think so, but I'm sure by now you don't need me to tell you they'd be wrong. Because the people God uses don't have to know a lot of things, or have a lot of things -- they just have to need him a lot."

If your God's child you have to accept the bad news of your sin before you can celebrate the glorious news of God's amazing grace.
If you're God's child you have been given an identity you didn't earn and blessed with potential beyond your natural gifts.
If you're God's child you have reason for hope no matter how hard things are or how weak you feel because Christ lives inside you.  Paul David Tripp

21/03/2012 Reading Speechless by Steven Curtis Chapman and Scotty Smith...
The gospel of God's grace also has its own lyrics and music, although unique to the gospel is the way the music is contained in its lyric.  Nothing can compare with the wonder that occurs when the truth of the gospel sings in our hearts by the work of the Holy Spirit....The only applause that really matters is God's, and it is thunderously heard for each of us in the gospel of his grace.

"If a man delights in free grace, you can be sure he is a man who has seen his utter sinfulness and hopelessness and helplessness."

...The beauty of the gospel, however, is that it informs us about who we are and what Jesus has already done. While it convicts us that we’re all unloving show-offs (in some way), it also assures us that we’ve been loved and that we no longer need to show off to get other people’s approval because  (here’s the best news of all!) the record of our Modest Redeemer is ours! Our identity isn’t wrapped up in the approval or envy of others. Our identity is found in Christ’s life, death and resurrection. Christ is our life. He loved us and refrained from showing off so that we could be His and freed from the need to prove (ourselves)…because we’ve been lavished with His love instead.  
Elyse Fitzpatrick


"When you think you're independently righteous,
you don't pursue a personal devotional life with neediness and celebration.
When you think you're independently righteous, 
you think you deserve more respect and acclaim than any sinner ever deserves.
When you think you're independently righteous,
you will proudly take credit for what only amazing grace could produce."

"When you think you're righteous,
you think you've earned what you haven't earned and deserve what you don't deserve.
When you think you're righteous,
you're more proud than thankful and you feel entitled to what is only ever a gift of grace.
When you think you're righteous,
you don't see yourself as weak and vulnerable, so you're not careful when it comes to temptation and sin."  Paul Tripp

"Christian growth happens by working hard to daily swim in the reality of what we do have.  Believing again and again the gospel of God's free justifying grace every day--and resting in his verdict--is the hard work we're called to.  Sanctification is the hard work of giving up our efforts at self-justification."  Tullian Tchividjian

"If you hook the hope of your heart to the people around you, you will always be disappointed. No one is able to be your personal messiah." Paul Tripp

"The gospel frees us from demanding our own way, because nothing we desire to obtain is worth sinning against such love and kindness."  Elyse Fitzpatrick

Isaiah says the Messiah will come to save us ‘with divine retribution.’ But Jesus isn’t smiting people. He’s not taking out his sword. He’s not taking power; he’s giving it away. He’s not taking over the world; he’s serving it. Where’s the divine retribution? And the answer is, he didn’t come to bring divine retribution; he came to bear it. On the cross, Jesus would identify with us totally. On the cross, the Child of God was thrown away, cast away from the table without a crumb, so that those of us who are not children of God could be adopted and brought in. Put another way, the Child had to become a dog so that we could become sons and daughters at the table.

And because Jesus identified like that with us, now we know why we can approach him. The Son became a dog so that we dogs could be brought to the table; he became mute so that our tongues can be loosed to call him King. Don’t be too isolated to think you are beyond healing. Don’t be too proud to accept what the gospel says about your unworthiness. Don’t be too despondent to accept what the gospel says about how loved you are.  Tim Keller
"Indeed, if we consider the unblushing promises of reward and the staggering nature of the rewards promised in the Gospels, it would seem that Our Lord finds our desires, not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased."  C.S. Lewis 

One of the signs that you may not grasp the unique, radical nature of the gospel is that you are certain that you do. Sometimes longtime church members find themselves so struck and turned around by a fresh apprehension of the Christian message that they feel themselves to have been essentially ‘re-converted.’  Tim Keller

"You won't lose your love for Jesus, if you see how wretched you are compared to God's holiness, and you realize apart from Him, you are a mess!"  Abe Meysenburg

"We're more sinful and flawed than we ever dared believe; we're more loved and welcomed than we ever dared hope."  Elyse Fitzpatrick 

"...once God rescues sinners, his plan isn't to steer them beyond the gospel but to move them more deeply into it.  That's because the gospel isn't the first step in a stairway of truths but more like the hub in a wheel of truth.  After all, the only antidote to sin is the gospel--always has been, always will be.  And since Christians remain sinners even after they're converted, the gospel must be the medicine a Christian takes every day.  We can think of it this way:  since we never leave off sinning, we can never leave off the gospel."  Tullian Tchividjian

"Laws, principles, suggestions, and good advice can set our course, but only the gospel promise can fill our sails and restore to us the joy of our salvation."  Michael Horton in A Gospel-Driven Life

"Take heed, then, to embrace the love and kindness of God and to daily exercise our faith therein, entertain no doubt of God's love and kindness."  Martin Luther

"How is your present disappointment, discouragement, or grief, a window on what has actually captured your heart?"  Paul Tripp  (this one gets me!  it's a question I should ask myself every morning) 

"Every sin we commit, either by omission or commission, is a failure to love as we've been loved.  Every transgression of the law finds its genesis in a stinginess of soul, a belief that we've got to protect our interests, fight for our rights, build our kingdom.  These are the thoughts of orphans, not well-loved daughters and sons."  Elyse Fitzpatrick

Scripture:

2 Peter 1: 5-9
For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; 6 and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; 7 and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. 8 For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 But whoever does not have them is nearsighted and blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their past sins.

Colossians 1: 23
if you continue in your faith, established and firm, and do not move from the hope held out in the gospel. This is the gospel that you heard and that has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven, and of which I, Paul, have become a servant.

Isaiah 54:10
Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed," says the LORD, who has compassion on you.

Psalm 103:12
as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us.

Epesians 5:1-2
Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children.  And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.


Articles:
Dying to Live by Tullian Tchividjian ::  This, I think, must be a daily read.
The Difference between Religion and the Gospel by Tim Keller
Reading the Stories and Missing the Story by Tullian Tchivdjian
The Danger of Trying to Please God 
Two-Hundred Proof Grace by Tullian Tchivdjian

Everyday questions/affirmations: 


WILT Thou forgive that sin where I begun,
Which was my sin, though it were done before?
Wilt Thou forgive that sin, through which I run,
And do run still, though still I do deplore?

When Thou hast done, Thou hast not done,
For I have more.
Wilt Thou forgive that sin which I have won
Others to sin, and made my sin their door?
Wilt Thou forgive that sin which I did shun
A year or two, but wallowed in a score?
When Thou hast done, Thou hast not done,
For I have more.
I have a sin of fear, that when I have spun
My last thread, I shall perish on the shore ;
But swear by Thyself, that at my death Thy Son
Shall shine as he shines now, and heretofore;
And having done that, Thou hast Donne ;
I fear no more.


This song by Josh Garrels speaks to me.


Farther along we'll know all about it
Farther along we'll understand why
So, cheer up my brothers, live in the sunshine
We'll understand this, all by and by

Tempted and tried, I wondered why
The good man died, the bad man thrives
And Jesus cries because he loves 'em both
We're all cast-aways in need of rope
Hangin' on by the last threads of our hope
In a house of mirrors full of smoke
Confusing illusions I've seen

Where did I go wrong, I sang along
To every chorus of the song
That the devil wrote like a piper at the gates
Leading mice and men down to their fates
But some will courageously escape
The seductive voice with a heart of faith
While walkin' that line back home

So much more to life than we've been told
It's full of beauty that will unfold
And shine like you struck gold my wayward son
That deadweight burden weighs a ton
Go down into the river and let it run
Wash away all the things you've done
Forgiveness alright

Farther along we'll know all about it
Farther along we'll understand why
So, cheer up my brothers, live in the sunshine
We'll understand this, all by and by

Still I get hard pressed on every side
Between the rock and a compromise
Like the truth and pack of lies fightin' for my soul
And I've got no place left go
'Cause I got changed by what I've been shown
More glory than the world has known
Keeps me ramblin' on

Skipping like a calf loosed from its stall
I'm free to love once and for all
And even when I fall I'll get back up
For the joy that overflows my cup
Heaven filled me with more than enough
Broke down my levees and my bluffs
Let the flood wash me

And one day when the sky rolls back on us
Some rejoice and the others fuss
'Cause every knee must bow and tongue confess
That the Son of God is forever blessed
His is the kingdom, we're the guests
So put your voice up to the test
Sing Lord, come soon

Farther along we'll know all about it
Farther along we'll understand why
So, cheer up my brothers, live in the sunshine
We'll understand this, all by and by


His crown for my shame
His reward for my blame
My hell for His home
My rags for His robe
His blessing for my grief
My curse for His peace
His righteousness for my sin
I’m accepted, He was condemned.

a prayer to pray to God
"In Christ there is nothing I could to do make You love me more; nothing I have done that makes You love me less.  You are all I need for everlasting joy.  As you have been to me, so I will be to others.  As I pray, I'll measure Your compassion by the cross and your power by the resurrection."

Because Jesus was strong for me, I am free to be weak.
Because Jesus won for me, I am free to lose.
Because Jesus was Someone, I am free to be no one.
Because Jesus was extraordinary, I am free to be ordinary.
Because Jesus succeeded for me, I am free to fail.

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, my ever-present desires, my greed, my playing the comparison game, or....?  How do the life, death, and resurrection of Christ affect my thirst for security, affection, protection, meaning, and purpose?  How does the finished work of the one "exposed, ravaged, and ruined, and resurrected for us" satisfy my deepest daily needs so that I can experience the liberating power of the gospel every day and in every way?  thoughts from Jesus + Nothing = Everything

"Having tasted the goodness of God in the gospel, how can I maximize my enjoyment of Him, when every moment of my life I am tempted to make a god out of his good gifts?" from John Piper  :: excellent question that I have no inkling how to answer

The 4 G's
God is GREAT, so we don't have to be in control.
God is GLORIOUS, so we don't have to fear others
God is GOOD, so we don't have to look elsewhere
God is GRACIOUS, so we don't have to prove ourselves.

Music
This jar of clay and all its weakness;
Somehow inside dwells Your fullness.
Even though I’m not yet flawless,
You are forming me.

Your grace for me is all I need
All I need is here
Your grace for me
Is all I need
All I need is here

Everything that I desire really may not meet my needs.
Help me to seek first Your kingdom.
You’ll provide for me.

Your grace for me
Is all I need
All I need is here
Your grace for me is all I need
All I need is here

Valleys come and tears aren’t dry yet and there are things I don’t yet see.
But I’ll rejoice despite of hardship; You’ll watch over me.

Your grace for me is all I need
All I need is here
Your grace for me is all I need
All I need is here
Your grace for me is all I need
All I need is here
All I need
All I need is here in You

 

Amazing grace
How sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me
I once was lost, but now I'm found
Was blind, but now I see

'Twas grace that taught my heart to fear
And grace my fears relieved
How precious did that grace appear
The hour I first believed

My chains are gone
I've been set free
My God, my Savior has ransomed me
And like a flood His mercy rains
Unending love, Amazing grace

The Lord has promised good to me
His word my hope secures
He will my shield and portion be
As long as life endures

[2x]
My chains are gone
I've been set free
My God, my Savior has ransomed me
And like a flood His mercy rains
Unending love, Amazing grace

The earth shall soon dissolve like snow
The sun forbear to shine
But God, Who called me here below
Will be forever mine
Will be forever mine

You are forever mine 


16/03/2012--Hard to believe this a lot of the time, but it is TRUTH

All I Need by JJ Heller

I don't need a thing
My good shepherd brings me all
You are all I need
You let me catch my breath
Even in the valley of death
You are all I need

All I need to be complete is your love
Your blood that covers me

You lift up my head
You provide the wine and bread
You are all I need
There's no need to fear
Even with my enemies here
You are all I need

All I need to be complete is your love
Your blood that covers me

Goodness and mercy are following me
You are all that I need
You make a home for me
With pastures of green as far as I see
You are all I need

All I need to be complete is your love
Your blood that covers me


(every song in these playlists a reminder of the TRUTH of the Gospel):
Truth by Jill Billington on Grooveshark

Jesus + Nothing = Everything by Jill Billington on Grooveshark

from Jars of Clay "Out of my Hands"

I wasted a rescue
Abandoned the mission
I've failed by my own hand
And watched it all go wrong
You said You could save me
That I couldn't save myself
You said that You loved me
No matter what I've done

When the light is gone
And life is just a dare we take
Still the fight goes on
To give my heart away

And it's out of my hands
It was from the start
In light of what You've done for me
In light of what You've done for me
You lifted my head
Set me apart
In light of what You've done for me
This is what You've done for me
It's out of my hands

You grow where the light is
Like trees in the highlands
We're bent by our own plan
To keep us in the dark
And I act like an orphan
Forget that You found me

But You came like a whisper
And saved me with a spark

When the light is gone
And life is just a dare we take
Still the fight goes on and on
To give my heart away

And it's out of my hands
It was from the start
In light of what You've done for me
In light of what You've done for me
You lifted my head
Set me apart
In light of what You've done for me
This is what You've done for me
It's out of my hands
It's out of my hands

There's nothing in the world that I can offer
Nothing in the world that I can stand apart
Apart from You
Apart from You
There's nothing in my life
Nothing in my life that You Haven't given to me

It's out of my hands
It was from the start
In light of what You've done
In light of what You've done
You lifted my head
Set me apart
In light of what You've done
In light of what You've done for me
It's out of my hands
It was from the start
In light of what You've done for me
In light of what You've done for me
You lifted my head
Set me apart
In light of what You've done for me
This is what You've done for me

It's out of my hands

Run in the Night by Jars of Clay
I know who I am
Once I was nameless, alone and You found me
You formed my knees to bend
You called me beloved
I am perfection


All my failures won't condemn me
Or leave me paralyzed and bound
And when I'm at my worst
Your love, it finds me first

By You I can run in the night
For by You I can run in the night

For I am such a man
Seized by the power of a great perfection
No matter where I am
Peace spreads below me in every direction

When evil sets the war upon me
I won't stumble, I won't fall
And though they do their worst
Your love has found me first
For by You I can run in the night
For by You I can run in the night
For by You I can run in the night

Hide me in the shelter of...
Keep me in the cover of...
Lead me in the light of Your love
Hide me in the light of Your love

For by You I can run in the night
For by You I can run in the night
For by You I can run in the night
For by You I can run in the night


From Come Thou Fount
O to grace how great a debtor
Daily I’m constrained to be!
Let Thy goodness, like a fetter,
Bind my wandering heart to Thee.
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
Prone to leave the God I love;
Here’s my heart, O take and seal it,
Seal it for Thy courts above.

Jesus Loves Me This I Know by Aaron Keyes & Ben Smith on Grooveshark

I BELONG
© Mildred Rainey & Kathryn Scott

Not angels, nor demons, no power on earth or heaven
Not distance, nor danger, no trouble now or ever

Nothing can take me from your great love
Forever this truth remains

I belong, I belong to you X2

Not hardship, nor hunger, no pain or depth of sorrow
Not weakness, nor failure, no broken dream or promise