Wednesday, January 17, 2007
The Discipline of Grace
Preaching the Gospel to myself.
Taking off the poser mask and realizing "I am Not, but I know I AM".
Well, I have been reading "The Disciplines of Grace" by Jerry Bridges. He is one of my favorite authors on holiness, grace and the pursuit there of. I am confident of one thing: Jesus died for me. Yeah, I know - "Wow how cliche. Maybe we ought to put that in a CCM song or perhaps on a Christian T-shirt." I can hear the moans of, "is he still on this?"
Yes. I am still on this. This, being: Jesus died for me. I mean He freed me. I really get it. Mr. Bridges is bringing back to my mind the good thought patterns that I am a man in need of the Gospel and the Gospel is GOOD NEWS. REALLY GOOD NEWS. Focusing, meditating this new year solely on that one thing: Jesus paid it all. Done. Finished. And I am crucified with Christ so it is no longer I who live but it is Christ who lives in me. I have been walking around touting on and on about Faith Alone and I myself wasn't smoking what I was selling. I mean I believed it, but I did not own it and live it. I did not walk in the Truth of the Lord Jesus' penal substitutionary atonement to release me from the grasp of sin. The enemy doesn't want me to think about it. My flesh certainly does not want me to write about it. To tell the world that Jesus set me free.
Two Sundays ago, Kim and I visited Deliverance Bible Church in Hurst, TX. It's a church for punks and outsiders. The kind of church that adults wouldn't appreciate and the "in" Christian kids would feel uncomfortable attending. The pastor, gave a message about forgiving sin and then confessed some sin that he has been dealing with. He then invited anyone who wanted to confess to the church their sins, to come up front and well, confess. The line formed immediately. Intentions and motivations aside, the Holy Spirit moved the people to come. Some didn't get it. Others, sold out to the idea of sensing the freedom from just being naked in front of everyone with everything exposed (not literally of course). My heart was pounding in my chest. I was conflicted - do I go confess? Or do I sit here too afraid of what my motivation might be. Meanwhile, others were confessing their deep dark hearts. Liars, lustful men and women, thieves, perverts, homosexuals, junkies, addicts, idolaters, God-haters, murderers, everyone had a representative. My sin was now fearing man. I was afraid of what others would think. Even though almost everyone got up and confessed something. As I sat there I prayed, God make my intentions and motivation pure, no pride and no fear. And of course the Lord was gracious to answer. When I got to the front where the mic was, I was still afraid and tried to be humorous to make up for it. I wasn't afraid of being in front of people, I was afraid of what was going to come out of my mouth.
Like a movie of the past couple of months, I shared how I didn't trust God. I went on about how I envied other pastors and worried profusely about being in a position. I confessed that I had been angry at my wife - not because of something she had done, but just that I was angry with her. I was frustrated and wasn't following Christ with all of me. I was prideful and arrogant and I had to confess that too. I confessed to loving sleep over loving the Word.
As I went to set down, I knew I was in good company when others looked me in the eye and nodded the "I've been there, bro. Keep running." I didn't see thee before mentioned "sinners", I saw saints who feared God and loved Him. Disciples seeking the Rabbi, Jesus. And He was eager to be found. When we got in the car Kimberly confessed somethings to me. It was the first time in awhile I didn't get angry or resentful. And that is because some healing took place in my heart. Grace came in. Jesus showed Himself marvelous again. Just like Jesus.
So being disciplined by Grace - I am learning (again) - is a sign that I am in Christ. That He abides with me and I abide in Him.
Jesus is still setting me free and Jesus has set me free. Sweet.
Thank God for the book of Romans and for the apostle Paul.